Assyrian legends of Iraqi football: Youra Eshaya


YOURA ESHAYA (b.1933-d.1992)

Youra Eshaya was one of the greatest Iraqi players of all times, who in 1949 and being only 16 years of age joined the Assyrian Employees’ Club in Habbaniya, and one year later was selected to represent the Civil Cantonment (C.C.) Team of Habbaniya.

In 1954, he left for England and played there in the semi-professional league for a period of 16 months, for Football League club, Bristol Rovers, then playing in the Second Division. Youra, as a foreigner was unable to play as a full-time professional, and spent his time in England, playing for the club’s third team, Bristol Rovers Colts.

In late 1955 he was brought back to Iraq by a request from Brigadier Kadhim Abbadi, then the Iraqi Air Force Commander (A.O.C.), and joined the Iraqi Air Force team.

His naturalisation went through speedily and in no time at all he was selected to play for the Iraqi national team. Youra played for the Iraqi Air Force team until 1971 when he retired from playing. Youra was unquestionably one of the greatest forwards of all time.

Due to his technical brilliance, he added a quality rare among Iraqi soccer artists, i.e. incredible stamina. The field was his preserve, as he was capable of having a shot at the goal one minute, and pulling back the next, to slide tackling an opponent near his own penalty area.

It is to him, more than any other player the Iraqi Air Force owe their astonishing successes and championships. He has been their team leader and star player.

He was also a maestro in the Iraqi national team and the combined Assyrian teams as well. He maintained his remarkable stamina through his cross-country running.

Youra played quite a number of championship games for the Iraqi National teams, which were played in the Middle East, Europe, and in Africa. During his career, he was a real soccer-minded master.

He was the one directs the plan and bestrides the field, and it would not be exaggerating if we say that no greater centre forward was ever known in Iraq, such as Youra. He went onto become a football coach in Sweden, where he had settled with his Swedish wife.

Number of games played against foreign teams: 75



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