We aren’t known for sending our players to Europe’s top leagues. In fact, many of Iraq’s internationals, past and present, enjoy life in the Gulf too much to worry about a move abroad.
But, believe it or not, many Lions have played alongside some footballing legends throughout their career. Others have linked up with pre-Madonnas, and a few have worked with players that have went on to become national heroes.
We may only have Ali Adnan plying his trade in the big time, but the partnerships our Lions have struck up over the years may come as a surprise to some.
Here’s a list of Iraqi featured football combos you have (probably) forgotten were once teammates.
Ali Adnan and Di Natale
Of course we have to start with Alawi. Our first ever Serie A representative and as many of you know his signing also meant he would be playing in the same team as an Italy and Udinese great, Antonio Di Natale.
Ali Abbas and Del Piero
Another Ali and another Italian hero. Alessandro Del Piero is widely regarded as one of Italy’s best ever players and our very own Ali Abbas had the privilege of joining him during his time at Sydney FC.
Nashat Akram and Hakan Yakin
The Maestro spent the majority of his career in the Middle East and when at Qatar’s Al-Gharafa he was accompanied by Swiss/Turkish superstar Hakan Yakin.
Younis Mahmoud and Juninho
One hardly missed a penalty, the other hardly missed a free-kick. Mahmoud was also at the Doha club and was captained by Juninho Pernambucano, considered by some in the sport to be the greatest free-kick specialist of all time.
Justin Meram and Higuain
No, not that Higuain. Although Justin Meram’s Columbus Crew teammate Federico Higuain is the brother of Juventus’ most expensive ever player, Gonzalo. A worthy mention just for that.
Yaser Kasim and Kane
Kasim was on Tottenham’s ranks as a teenager which saw the now Swindon Town man appear in the same development squad as Andros Townsend, Ryan Mason, Steven Caulker and England’s golden boy, Harry Kane.
Osama Rashid and de Vrij
Currently playing in Portugal’s second-tier, it’s often forgotten that Rashid was capped at youth level by the Netherlands. During that time he teamed up with Lazio and Oranje’s Stefan de Vrij.
Abbas Obeid and Lee Dong-gook
Former-Iraq captain Obeid was the teammate of South Korea’s Lee Dong-gook when at Pohang Steelers. The K-League record scorer had brief spells in Europe with Werder Bremen and Middlesbrough.
Younis Mahmoud and Raul
No better way to end than with these two deadly finishers. Mahmoud met up with the Real Madrid legend at Al-Sadd, a frightening partnership to say the least.
Other notable mentions include Nashat Akram alongside Luuk de Jong and Bryan Ruiz at FC Twente and Shwan Jalal’s early days at Spurs with Jermain Defoe. Missed out on any? Send them over, @SoccerIraq!