Assyrian legends of Iraqi football: Ammo Baba


AMMO BABA (b.1934-d.2009)

Ammo Baba was one of the most fabulous and flamboyant soccer players history has ever created. He started shinning in 1951 when he was selected to play for the Iraqi school team where his debut was so great and successful when he played against Egyptian team in Cairo.

He was to develop and finish his skills when he joined the Assyrian Employees’ Club in Habbaniya and played along with some famous Assyrian players such as Ammo Samson, Youra Eshaya, Zia Shawel, and Hormis Goriel.

In 1954 he joined the Royal Guards soccer team for which he played until 1956. He had a short spell at the Third Division side in Habbaniya in 1957, before moving to the Air Force team, where he played until 1958.

In 1958, he left the Air Force side and was appointed player-coach of the Assyrian Sports Club, who he led to the 1960 Iraq FA Cup Championship. He returned to the Air Force after lifting the Iraqi championship, and played there until 1964.

Due to his magnificent playing abilities and subtle techniques he maintained his position brilliantly that he was always called to play regularly for the Iraqi national team. In 1965 he almost retired due to a serious injury that was caused at the Pan Arab Games in Cairo against Aden.

Ammo Baba had dark hair, powerful body, and acrobatic skills, and was a great goalscorer. His astonishing kicking power, bicycle kick abilities, and marvellous speed made him so unique and outstanding.

His greatest disappointment was his injury while in the peak of his career; yet the ace should be commemorated as one of the greatest footballers not only in Iraq but throughout all the Middle East countries as well.

He scored approximately 850 goals in his playing career against foreign and local teams.

In 1967 Ammo Baba became the coach of the Public Transport Services team. In 1971 he was appointed as the head coach of the Military College team for which he played. His production as assistant coach and coach is worth mentioning. In 1978 he was designated as head coach of the Iraqi national team.

During the period of his coaching career, his team achieved the following victorious accomplishments: 1. CISM World Military Championship (1979); 2. Gulf Cup (1979, 1984 and 1988); 3. Merdeka Championship (1981); and 4. Asian Games (1982). It is worth mentioning that he was the only coach who could get the Iraqi national team to the finals of the Olympic Games on two occasions in 1984 held in Los Angeles and in 1988 in Seoul.

Number of games played against foreign teams: 85



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