On Thursday afternoon, Naft Maysan hosted Al-Shorta for an Iraqi Premier League match, at the brand new stadium in Maysan. Al-Shorta is aiming to snatch the title after years after of mediocrity, and nothing but a victory was one the line for the Baghdad based club. Well, almost.
Naft Maysan's goalkeeper, Alaa Ahmed, produced a fantastic game, saving his teammates at least six times during the game from conceding, helping his team to finish in a respectable result against one of the league's top sides.
Ahmed played without telling anyone about the passing of his son just a day before on Wednesday. After the game, he couldn't hold back his emotions and broke down in tears. It was hard to watch.
The story of Alaa turned viral worldwide, intriguing warm responses and condolences. From Iraq and the Middle East, this story has hit the international football community straight in a sensitive spot.
This story enclaves so much of what the game football means for its fans worldwide. It is exactly where the love for football and football as a game clashes directly and accurately with real life.
Though, the unpleasant circumstances highlighted another phenomenon. Iraqi football is full of amazing stories, taking place on a weekly basis. Iraq is a football-holic country which is in a difficult stage by all means. Yet, the security, economical and political issues don't stop the passion for football in the country. The opposite - it's enhances it. This fact is true to more places in the Middle East, as well as in Africa, Asia, Latin America and more places who are far away from the English Premier League & UEFA Champions League. I wish that we had put the focus on them also when its for good football reasons, and not just in sad tragedies like the one of this week. Rest in peace Alaa' son. Baba's thoughts are with you.