Massoud earned his nickname, the Lion of Panjshir, for his part in forcing the Soviet army out of Afghanistan. Panjshir Province lies in the northwest of the country. In 1992, he was made Defence Minister, but when the Taliban came to power he took up command of the Northern Alliance opposing them.
After his death, Massoud was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and was declared Hero of the Afghan Nation by Hamid Karzai.
Ken Follett's 1998 novel, Lie Down with Lions, is based on Massoud.