Iraqi football legend Ahmed Radhi dies from coronavirus

Ahmed Radhi (INA)

Ahmed Radhi (INA)

By Habib Toumi

BAGHDAD: Iraqi football legend Ahmed Radhi died on Sunday from complications linked to COVID-19 hours before he was scheduled to be flown for treatment in Jordan.

Ahmed, 56, was one of the most celebrated players in Iraq and the Middle East. He scored 62 goals in 121 appearances for his national team, including Iraq’s only World Cup finals goal in 1986 against Belgium. He was on the team that won gold at the 1982 Asian Games and then the Gulf Cup in 1984 and 1988. He was the only Iraqi player to be voted Asian player of the year (1988).

He retired from international football in 1997 and national football in 1999.

President Barham Saleh mourned him in a tweet and offered his condolences to the former player’s family and supporters.

“Even though we lost him, he still lives in the heart of every Iraqi,” he posted.

Iraq’s new sports minister Adnan Darjal, a former footballer, deplored the loss of a “lifelong companion, our fans’ ardent star, the unrivalled athlete and son of Iraq.”

Stephen Hickey, the British Ambassador to Iraq, also expressed his sadness over Ahmed’s death in a tweet in Arabic.

ahmed-2

Ahmed was taken to hospital on June 13 after he had a sudden rise in temperature and a severe weakness in his body.

He was discharged on Thursday, but within hours, his health deteriorated and he was re-admitted into Al Noaman Hospital in Baghdad in the evening. He was scheduled to fly to Jordan on Sunday at 2 am, Baghdad time, local media reported.

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