On Wednesday, Iraqfpg.com reported that Iraq U-20 coach Hakim Shaker had called up three expatriate players in preparation for the upcoming World Youth Cup. They included two amateurs from the United States and a mysterious third player, who according to his own Facebook page plays for the youth team of English Premier League club Manchester City.
The player’s name is Rami Sami, but who is he, you may ask?
Rami Sami Rahman, to give him his full name, was born on October 27, 1993 in Iraq, and was (referring to his Facebook page) the top scorer for City’s youth team in three consecutive seasons from 2006, and won the Manager’s Footballer of the Year Award in 2005 and the club’s Young Player of the Year Award in 2008.
Earlier this year, he was interviewed on Iraqi state TV channel Al-Iraqiya and was championed as a young Iraqi footballer at Manchester City. He described how at the age of only three, he left Iraq and was raised by his mother after they settled in the city of Manchester.
City scouts, spotted him at the age of 10, after scoring bundles of goals for his school team, and joined the club’s academy, where he was managed by youth coach Paul Power. His dream, the player stated in the interview, was to return to Baghdad and play for Iraq.
The indolent and often heedless Iraqi sports media, duped into believing that he was a current City player with a few photos and videos clips of a younger looking Rami in a light blue City kit, have taken him at his word, and describe him as ‘a youth player from Manchester City.’
However when googling his name, you will not find any evidence that he has ever played or that he is currently on the books of the Premier League side.
You would expect that a player, that has been top scorer for the youth team at one of Europe’s top clubs for three seasons in a row, would at least get a mention in one of the youth squads at the Manchester club, but Rami Sami’s name does not feature in any of the club’s rosters, whether the reserves or the youth side.
So what is the truth? Is he really a youth player at City? Or is he trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a whole nation, to blag his way into the Iraqi shabab (Youth) team and gain a place on the plane destined for the FIFA World Youth Championship in Turkey this summer?
For Rami Sami, read Ali Dia. Saints fans may recall, he was the Senegalese forward that managed to play 53 minutes of Premier League football before he was found out to be a fraud.
He was signed by the club after their manager at the time, Graeme Souness, took a phone call from someone claiming to have been Liberian striker George Weah recommending ‘his cousin’ to the club.
However Rami Sami did not need Weah or any other world-renowned footballer to phone up youth coach Hakim Shaker to get him a call-up. He did it using the power of the internet and the world of social networking.
He steadily constructed an online profile of himself as a youth player at England’s league champions and was propelled into the spotlight in Iraq after his ‘little’ fib was given affirmed legitimacy when he was interviewed on Iraqi State television.
The only evidence that he was ever at Manchester City come from the player’s own Facebook page and he has even posted pictures of his time at the club’s Academy.
The photos appear to have been taken a few years ago, but it seems that to many people, seeing it on Facebook is enough for them to believe that he is a City player.
On February 24, of this year, he posted a photo of conditioning coach Al Stewart, with the message “My fitness Coach Al Stewart, Very good Coach.”
The picture seems to have been taken from an article which the Daily Mail published on their website on December 3, 2010, but what is even more interesting is that Mr.Stewart left the club in August 2012 and is now employed by Hull City.
While this Rami Sami, or whatever his real name is, may have been part of the youth set-up at the Ettihad at some point in his life, he’s not any longer and may have bent the truth to get into the Iraqi youth team.
Manchester City confirmed that Rami was a player at the club’s youth academy but was released at Under 15s Age Group at the end of the 2009/2010 season.
This maybe the first time in history that a footballer has managed to use social media, to get himself a place in a football team, without anyone, including the coach, actually having seen him play.
A first for Iraqi football, a call-up via Facebook.