Not only did Spain win on the soccer pitch on Monday night but the team captain won the hearts of Israelis when he made a special visit to the family of a fan who was killed in a shooting attack on the Temple Mount in July.
Israeli Druze police officer Haiel Sitawe, 30, who was killed in the July 14 attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, was a huge fan of Sergio Ramos, captain of the Spanish national side and of Real Madrid. Sitawe’s son, who was just three weeks old when his father was killed, was even named Ramos in honor of the soccer star.
In photos shared on Facebook by Sitawe’s brother Hosam, Ramos is seen holding little Ramos, along with other family members, after visiting them the day before the World Cup qualifier match.
אחי היקר אני רוצה לספר לך שהחלום שלך התגשם ,בנך ראמוס המדהים נפגש עם השחקן האגדי סרחיו ראמוס , עשינו את זה בשבילך אחי , …
The soccer player gave the family a baby-sized Spanish uniform for the little one to wear.
Hosam Sitawe wrote, “Dear brother, I want to tell you that your dream came true, your amazing son Ramos met with the legendary player Sergio Ramos. We did it for you my brother.”
He wrote of the bitter-sweet experience.
“I would have wanted you to be there and for you to be the one to fulfill the dream and meet Sergio,” he wrote. “I know how much you wanted it. There is no one in the world who wanted it more than you, but fate took you too soon.”
Afif Sitawe, Haiel’s father, told Channel 2 news of the emotional encounter with the soccer star who he said “came to us with such a smile.”
“I imagined as if I saw my son who was killed when Ramos entered the room,” he said. “When he entered the room I felt as if he was coming to see my son, not my grandson.”
“It has been very difficult,” he said of the aftermath of the death of his son. “Thank God he gave us little Ramos.”
He thanked everyone who supported the family since his son was killed. “I want to thank all the people of Israel and especially the Jewish people who shared my mourning with me. And all those who arranged for us to meet with Ramos… and fulfilled my son’s dream,” he said.
As well as Sitawe, fellow policeman Kamil Shnaan, 22, was killed in the July attack when three Israeli-Arab terrorists opened fire at the officers in an alleyway outside the Temple Mount complex. They were both critically injured in the attack, later succumbing to their wounds.
The perpetrators, all from the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, fled back to the Temple Mount compound and were shot dead by other police officers on the scene.
Before Monday’s game at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, Ramos also did some Jerusalem sightseeing. On his Facebook and Instagram accounts he shared a photo of himself with the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, which sits atop the area known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in the background.
Un lujazo conocer de cerca Jerusalén y su historia.It’s a privilege to get to know Jerusalem and its history up close.
Spain won the game 1-0 to finish five points clear at the top of their group but the outcome of the match had no bearing on either squad’s World Cup fortunes, with Israel knocked out of contention, finishing fourth in Group G, and Spain having already secured its spot next year in Russia next year.