It is a term used loosely in the Iraqi sports media, but what does it actually mean?
It should mean a player that has represented the Iraqi national side, but I have seen many former players interviewed in sports papers and on television in Iraq, that have only played for an Iraqi junior, youth, or military side and still claim to be لاعب دولي but have never actually played an international for Iraq.
The reason I ask this question, is because a former player Ismail Khalil Al-Obaidi, known during his playing days as Ismail Al-Dags, is trying to get elected in the forthcoming provincal elections on the back of his sporting background as a former player of the Iraqi team. His campaign poster features him juggling a ball in an Inter Milan jersey, with the words ‘former international football player’.
But here is the thing, Ismail ‘Al-Dags’ never played for the Iraqi national side. He may have been a top player in his own province of Babil in his heyday and played for top teams at the time, but there is no evidence that he ever played a game for the Iraqi national team.
I don’t know Mr. Ismail Khalil and I am sure he is a good honest and hard-working person that will do his best for the province of Babil if elected, but to begin a political campaign on a lie, is not a good start.