Connect with us

AFP

Iraqi football legend Radhi dies from COVID-19


Baghdad (AFP) – Iraqi football legend Ahmed Radhi died Sunday from complications linked to COVID-19, the health ministry said, just hours before he was to be flown for treatment in Jordan.

Radhi, 56, scored what remains Iraq’s only World Cup finals goal in 1986 against Belgium.

He had been hospitalised last week in Baghdad after testing positive for coronavirus but had checked out on Thursday after his condition improved.

But he relapsed a few hours later and was readmitted but passed away early Sunday. 

In a video reportedly from his hospital bed on Saturday, Radhi could be seen struggling to breathe as medics in full protective gear try to treat him. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to breathe but that’s normal,” he could be heard telling the medical team, his voice strained. 

Radhi, a striker, led Iraq to victory in the Gulf Cups of 1984 and 1988, when he was voted Asian footballer of the year. 

In the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he scored against Belgium but Iraq went on to lose the match 2-1 and exited the tournament in the group stage without a point.

He fled Iraq in 2006 after its Olympic Committee head was kidnapped during the height of the sectarian violence that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.

Radhi moved with his family to the Jordanian capital Amman but returned to Iraq in 2007 for a career in politics, replacing a member of parliament who defected to join the bloody insurgency raging across the country.

He was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2014 and 2018 elections with the National Alliance, a coalition of Sunni and Shiite figures. 

When news of his death broke, football fans in Iraq exploded in grief. 

“With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn our lifelong companion, our fans’ ardent star, the unrivalled athlete and son of Iraq, Ahmed Radhi,” said Iraq’s new sports minister Adnan Darjal, himself a former football star. 

“Farewell, Abu Faisal, goodbye to my brother Ahmed Radhi,” wrote former star and Iraqi League President Hussein Saeed.

The director of Jordan’s Football Association Ali Al-Hussein said the world had lost “a sports star whom we cherish and are proud of”. 

Iraq has registered nearly 30,000 cases of the coronavirus and deaths topped 1,000 earlier this week.

The country’s health system — worn down by years of conflict and insufficient maintenance — has been overwhelmed by the spiking numbers. 

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in AFP

Translate »