Younis Mahmoud Khalef (يونس محمود; born 2 March 1983) is an Iraqi footballer who is a forward and captain of the Iraq national football team. In 2007 he captained the Iraq football team to Asian Cup glory.
Career: Youth, Olympic and National Team
The Youth Team
Younis Mahmoud called up to the Iraqi U-19 squad; scored 4 goals from 8 matches but also he got sent-off twice.
Iraq National Team Debut
In March 2002, while many were questioning his temperament and lack of experience, coach Adnan Hamad
named Younis in his squad for Iraq's training camp in Italy and gave him his first start against Serie B
club Cagliari Calcio
and later went on to score. A month after landing both the Iraqi league and cup, Younis made his first full international debut against Syria
but failed to score; his first goal came in dramatic style as he netted in the 90th minute in the WAFF Championship
final against Jordan
to put the game into extra-time; where Haidar Mahmoud headed in the winner. His 6 goals at the Emir Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup including a hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Al-Nasr
turned several heads; he earned even more praise with 7 goals in the 2004 Asian Cup
qualifiers with four goals in a 5-1 drubbing of Bahrain
. Younis was nominated for the 2003 Asian Young Footballer of the Year
The Olympic Team
In 2004 Younis was part of the Olympic team in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games
who became 4th. Younis scored 1 goal against Portugal
. In 2006 Younis Mahmoud was part of the Iraq Olympic team in the 2006 Games
, he scored 3 goals and helped the team to win the Silver Medal. after his successful efforts in 2006 and in the Asian Games, Younis nominated for the 2006 Asian Footballer of the Year
The Asian Cup
Younis scored the winning and only goal in the 2007 AFC finals versus Saudi Arabia giving the Iraqis a one goal lead that eventually secured the Championship title for Iraq, their very first. Younis won the MVP award and shared the Top scorer's sheets with Naohiro Takahara
and Yasser Al-Qahtani
with 4 goals. In 2007 Younis Mahmoud was Asian Footballer of the Year
Other honours (individual)
- Best Player of the Year (In Iraqi Districts, "Muhafathat").
- League Top scorer with 19 goals.
- Youngest player to play for the Iraqi National team.
- Topscorer of 11th Umm Al-Ma’arak Cup.
- Top scorer in the Abha cup in Saudi Arabia with 5 goals.
- AFC Young player of the Year Nominee.
- Voted as one of the top 5 Arab players in 2003-2004.
- Top scorer of the Asian cup first qualification round with 7 goals.
- First Iraqi player to own a personal official website.
- 4th place in the Olympics 2004 finals in Athens, Greece.
- He participated in 5 matches, scoring once against Portugal in the first round.
- Reached the Quarter Final of the Asian Cup 2004 in China.
- Debut with Al-Khor club, Qatar.
- Top Al-Khor goal scorer.
- Scored fastest goal in the Qatari League.
- Scored fastest goal in the Qatari Cup.
- Top Goal scorer in the Qatari Cup.
- Won the Qatari Cup with Al-Khor Club.
- Winner of the 2005 West Asian cup held in Qatar.
- Top goal scorer of the 2005 West Asian cup held in Qatar.
- Top Al-Khor Club goal scorer.
- Second top goal scorer in the Qatari league with 20 goals, one goal behind the top goal scorer.
- Scored 6 goal in a Match and break record in the Qatar league.
- Nominated AFC Player of the Year 2006.
- Nominated Arab Player of the Year 2006.
- After two years of losing out the Qatari league top goal scorer award by a margin of one goal, Younis Mahmoud saw a happier ending to the Qatari league in his third year. Finally, and in a competition that lasted till the last minute of the Qatari league,
Younis Mahmoud snatched the Qatari league top goal scorer award. Younis was able to win the top goal scorer race against many foreign professional players and was able to add the top goal scorer award to his name this season.
- 24 March 2002 Younis Mahmoud Scored on his debut for Iraq vs Cagliari Calcio - (not International match)
- 7 September 2002 Iraq was down 1-2 to Jordan, In the last minutes Younis substituted in and scored his first International goal against Jordan in the 89th minute and extended the match to extra time, and because of it Iraq won the first WAFF Championship
- 8 April 2005 Al-Khor 8-0 Al-Shamal (Scored 6 goals and broke record)
- 17 August 2005 Iraq 5-2 Apollon Limassol (Friendly match) Younis scored 4 goals.
- 28 December 2006 Al-Garrafa 1-1 Al-Sadd (Scored in the 27th second)
- 11 October 2006 Scored 2 goals against Singapore, the 1st one was a solo act (Dribbled 4 players), the second goal from almost half field.
- 6 December 2006 Malaysia 0-4 Iraq (Scored 2 goals in 1 minute)
- 21 July 2007 Vietnam 0-2 Iraq (Scored the fastest goal in the Asian Cup (65 sec) and also scored the 2nd goal from a free kick)
- 29 July 2007 Saudi Arabia 0-1 Iraq (Scored the winning goal in the final of Asian Cup)
First official website
AFC 2003 Young Player of the Year nominee Younis Mahmoud has become the first Iraqi footballer to have his own official website – which was formally launched on April 27, 2004.
The boy from Al-Dibs in Kirkuk is considered one of Iraq's most talented players and is currently the star of both the Olympic and national side.
"I am glad to say that the site will be the first ever official Iraqi player's website" says webmaster Mohammed Ghazi Al-Khakani.
Al-Khakani, an Iraqi who studied at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, regularly visits his family in Abu Dhabi, where he was raised but the Christmas holiday 2003 proved to be a very different affair.
"I was driving my car and noticed from a distance someone wearing a jacket with the name IRAQ imprinted on it. This grabbed my attention so I stopped my car to take a closer look and recognised that the person was Younis Mahmoud."
Since then the pair have become good friends and it was Al-Khakani who then came up with the idea of an official website for the player. Younis excited about the idea, agreed, giving his friend the green light to go ahead and work on his personal website.
The site is updated regularly and include a biographical profile on the player, with latest news, photos, videos, and the player's views on upcoming matches and events.
Fans will also have the chance to have a one-on-one with him– where they can ask the player questions on his life and career.
"Inshallah (God willing) this will get me and my fans a huge step closer to each other" said Younis Mahmoud after the launch of the his site.
Interview conducted by Hasanian Mubarak.