Younis Mahmoud

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Younis Mahmoud
Younis Mahmoud 2012 2.jpg
Younis Mahmoud in 2012
Personal information
Full name Younis Mahmoud Khalaf
Date of birth (1983-02-03) 3 February 1983 (age 33)
Place of birth Dibis, Kirkuk, Iraq
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1996–1998 Kahraba Al-Dibis
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998–2001 Kirkuk
2001–2004 Al-Talaba 33 (26)
2002 Al-Shorta (loan) 0 (0)
2003–2004 Al-Wahda (loan) 26 (6)
2004–2006 Al-Khor 49 (39)
2006–2011 Al-Gharafa 95 (72)
2008 Al-Arabi (loan) 6 (2)
2011–2013 Al-Wakrah 33 (16)
2013 Al-Sadd 7 (2)
2013 Al-Ahli 6 (3)
2015 Erbil 0 (0)
2015–2016 Al-Talaba 19 (3)
National team
2001–2002 Iraq U19 8 (4)
2002–2014 Iraq U23 38 (25)
2002–2016 Iraq 148 (57)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 May 2016.

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 May 2016

Younis Mahmoud Khalaf (Arabic: يونس محمود خلف‎‎; born 3 February 1983[1] in Dibis, Kirkuk, Iraq),[2][3] is an Iraqi footballer who last played as a striker for Al-Talaba in the Iraqi Premier League. He previously played for the Iraq national football team, captaining the team for ten straight years. Regarded as one of Asia's best ever players,[4] Mahmoud has also played for a number of clubs including teams in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, breaking numerous records including becoming the first player in Qatar to score two hat-tricks in the same game.

Mahmoud's first official international goal came in the 89th minute of the final of the 2002 WAFF Championship, which Iraq went on to win. Three years later, Mahmoud scored in the final of the 2005 West Asian Games to lead his team to another tournament win, before becoming the national team captain a year later. In 2007, Mahmoud achieved the best honour of his career, leading his country to win the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, their first such success, scoring the winning goal in the final and also winning the Golden Boot and Most Valuable Player awards at the tournament. In the 2007 Ballon d'Or, Mahmoud finished in 29th place, becoming the only Iraqi player ever to be nominated for the Ballon d'Or.

He continued to feature prominently for the national team until 2016, playing in all three of Iraq's 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup matches and becoming the most-capped player in Iraq's history as well as their third-highest goalscorer ever.[5] He is also the only player in history to score in four different (and consecutive) AFC Asian Cup tournaments (one goal in 2004, four goals in 2007, one goal in 2011 and two goals in 2015).

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Mahmoud started out as a basketball player, playing as a shooting guard for the Kahraba Al-Dibis basketball team. The team's football coach, Muwafaq Nouraddin, persuaded him to switch to football as there was more money involved in football in Iraq, so Mahmoud began playing for Kahraba Al-Dibis's football team in the fourth division of Iraqi football. He became a regular player for the side.[6]


In 1998, Mahmoud moved to Kirkuk's biggest team, Kirkuk FC, who were in the second division at the time. He scored 19 goals in his first season at the club, winning the second division's top scorer award and helping his side win the second division title to get promoted to the top-flight. He scored his first top-flight goal for Kirkuk in Round 8 of the 1999–2000 Iraqi Premier League (then known as the Iraqi First Division League) in a 3–0 win over Al-Kadhimiya. Kirkuk were relegated back to the second division that season, but they managed to get promoted back to the top division the following campaign. At Kirkuk, he was discovered by scouts of Baghdad-based teams Al-Shorta and Al-Talaba, two of Iraq's biggest clubs, and he went on trial with Al-Shorta only to be turned down by their manager Ahmed Radhi.[7] After this, Mahmoud transferred to Al-Talaba.


Mahmoud's first match for Al-Talaba was the opening game of the 2001–02 Iraqi Elite League against his former club, Kirkuk. Al-Talaba won the match 8–0 and Mahmoud scored a hat-trick within the space of 10 minutes.[8] Mahmoud won his first trophy with the club when Al-Talaba defeated Al-Zawraa 2–1 in the 2001 Baghdad Cup; Mahmoud scored Al-Talaba's second goal in the game. Al-Talaba's penultimate league game of the season was a 2–0 win over Al-Karkh, with Mahmoud scoring both of Al-Talaba's goals. This match secured Al-Talaba their fifth league title, as they won the league with 91 points; Mahmoud scored 13 goals in the league that season. Al-Talaba also won the Iraq FA Cup that season to secure the double. Mahmoud scored 6 goals in that competition and assisted the winning goal in the final. That season, Al-Talaba also reached the final of the Umm Al Ma'arik Cup, but they lost the final 1–0 to Al-Shorta; Mahmoud scored 4 goals in that competition.

Al-Shorta (loan)[edit]

Mahmoud played for Al-Shorta in the 2002 Arab Police Championship, a competition for Police clubs in the Arab world (i.e. clubs named 'Al-Shorta'). Al-Shorta won all 4 matches they played and they conceded only 1 goal in the whole tournament. They won the competition finishing 7 points ahead of the 2nd-placed team.[9] It was the 5th time that Al-Shorta won the Arab Police Championship in their history.

Return to Al-Talaba[edit]

Mahmoud returned to Al-Talaba who started the 2002–03 campaign by winning the Al-Muthabara Cup 2–1 against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. The Iraqi Elite League was renamed 'Iraqi First Division League' for the 2002–03 season; this season, Al-Talaba finished as runners-up in the league, two points behind champions Al-Shorta. Mahmoud scored 10 goals in the league that season (and a further 3 goals in league matches that were eventually annulled). This season, Al-Talaba also won the Iraq FA Cup again, and also lost the Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup final to Al-Shorta again. They also played in the 2002–03 AFC Champions League but were knocked out at the group stage; Mahmoud scored 2 goals in that tournament, both against Turkmen club Nisa Aşgabat.

Al-Wahda (loan)[edit]

After the start of the Iraq War, football in Iraq was put on hold, so Mahmoud moved to Abu Dhabi club Al-Wahda on loan. Mahmoud played 26 matches for Al-Wahda and scored 6 goals.

Return to Al-Talaba[edit]

He struggled to find his feet in the UAE and returned to Al-Talaba in March 2004 to play in the 2003–04 Arab Champions League, after only a few months at Al-Wahda.[10]


After the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, Mahmoud signed for Qatar Stars League club Al-Khor. In the 2004–05 Qatar Stars League, Al-Khor finished in 3rd place and Mahmoud scored 19 goals, the 3rd-highest amount in the league. He broke three records in one game in an 8–0 victory over Al-Shamal. Having scored 6 goals in the match, he became the only player to have scored two hat-tricks in a single league match. He also scored the fastest goal in a league match, taking 30 seconds to score after the game had started. Furthermore, he was the only player that season to score three goals in each half against two different goalkeepers. He assisted in the two other goals in the match.[11] Al-Khor were knocked out of the 2005 Emir of Qatar Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing on penalties to Al-Sadd after a 2–2 draw in which Mahmoud scored. Al-Khor won the Qatar Crown Prince Cup though with Mahmoud scoring 4 goals in that competition including 2 goals in the final which Al-Khor won 2–1.

Al-Khor finished in a disappointing 7th position in the 2005–06 Qatar Stars League, but Mahmoud scored an impressive 20 league goals, the 2nd-highest amount in the league. They were again knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the Emir of Qatar Cup and Mahmoud scored 2 goals in that competition.


Younis Mahmoud playing for Al-Gharafa in 2009.

Mahmoud transferred to Al-Gharafa in 2006 and he would stay there for the next 5 years. Al-Gharafa finished as runners-up of the 2006–07 Qatar Stars League, and Mahmoud's 19 goals saw him take the Golden Boot award for the first time in his career. Al-Gharafa were runners-up of the Qatar Crown Prince Cup and Mahmoud scored 1 goal, in the semi-final. They were knocked out of the Emir of Qatar Cup in the semi-final, and Mahmoud scored 1 goal, in the quarter-final.

Mahmoud started the season by winning the 2007 Sheikh Jassim Cup and scoring 2 goals in the final, both in extra-time. Mahmoud won his first Qatar Stars League title in 2007–08 and scored 16 league goals, the 4th-highest amount in the league. Al-Gharafa lost the final of the Qatar Crown Prince Cup, with Mahmoud scoring 2 times in the semi-final. They also lost the final of the Emir of Qatar Cup, and Mahmoud scored 3 goals in that competition including 1 in the final. Al-Gharafa were knocked out of the group stage of the 2008 AFC Champions League and Mahmoud scored 1 goal in that competition.

Al-Arabi (loan)[edit]

Mahmoud joined Al-Arabi at the start of the 2008–09 season on loan and won the Sheikh Jassim Cup with the club. He scored 2 league goals for Al-Arabi in the 2008–09 Qatar Stars League.

Return to Al-Gharafa[edit]

Mahmoud returned to Al-Gharafa midway through the season and scored 1 goal for them in the 2008–09 Qatar Stars League, as they were crowned the league champions again. He played in the Qatar Crown Prince Cup but Al-Gharafa lost the semi-final to Qatar SC. However, they won the 2009 Emir of Qatar Cup and Mahmoud scored 3 goals in that competition.

Mahmoud won the league title for the third straight time with Al-Gharafa in this season, and he scored 21 goals which earned him the Golden Boot award again. He scored 4 goals in the 2009 Sheikh Jassim Cup, where Al-Gharafa were knocked out in the semi-finals, and 3 goals in the 2009 Qatari Stars Cup (including 2 in the final) which Al-Gharafa won. In the 2010 Qatar Crown Prince Cup Final, Mahmoud scored 2 goals to lead Al-Gharafa to yet another cup win. Al-Gharafa were knocked out of the 2010 Emir of Qatar Cup at the quarter-finals, and the 2010 AFC Champions League (in which Mahmoud scored 4 goals) at the quarter-finals too.

His campaign started off with the 2010 Sheikh Jassim Cup where Al-Gharafa were knocked out at the group stage; Mahmoud scored a hat-trick in a 5–0 win over Al-Markhiya in that competition. In the 2010–11 Qatar Stars League, Al-Gharafa finished in second place and Mahmoud won the Golden Boot award for the third time, with 15 league goals. Al-Gharafa were knocked out at the group stage of the 2010 Qatari Stars Cup, but they won the 2011 Qatar Crown Prince Cup and lost the final of the 2011 Emir of Qatar Cup (where Mahmoud scored 1 goal in the quarter-final). In the 2011 AFC Champions League, Al-Gharafa were knocked out at the group stage, where Mahmoud scored a hat-trick against Al-Jazira.


Younis Mahmoud playing for Al-Wakrah in 2012.

In 2011, Mahmoud signed for Al-Wakrah, who had finished in 7th place in the league the previous season. Al-Wakrah were knocked out of the 2011 Sheikh Jassim Cup at the group stage, and they finished in 7th place again in the 2011–12 Qatar Stars League; Mahmoud scored 8 goals in the league. Mahmoud earned his first honour with Al-Wakrah when they won the 2011 Qatari Stars Cup, with Mahmoud scoring 1 goal in the semi-final (and also missing a penalty). In the 2012 Emir of Qatar Cup, Al-Wakrah lost the quarter-final to Mahmoud's future club Al-Sadd.

Al-Wakrah were knocked out at the group stage of the Sheikh Jassim Cup again in 2012. Mahmoud scored 8 league goals for Al-Wakrah this season. They were knocked out at the group stage of the 2012–13 Qatari Stars Cup.


On 8 February 2013, days after Al-Wakrah were knocked out of the Qatari Stars Cup, Mahmoud signed for Al-Sadd, joining until the end of the 2012–13 season.[12] He made his league debut on 11 February 2013, in Al-Sadd's 3–0 win over Al-Sailiya. Mahmoud scored 2 league goals for Al-Sadd in the 2012–13 season and Al-Sadd won the league as Mahmoud achieved his fourth Qatar Stars League title. Mahmoud equalled Nasser Kamile's record for goals in the Qatar Crown Prince Cup after scoring against Al-Rayyan in the semi-final on 26 April. He scored what would be his 10th goal, tying him with Kamile, who participated in the tournament since its inception in 1995.[13] Mahmoud went on to score in the final of that competition too, but Al-Sadd lost the match 3–2 to Lekhwiya SC. Mahmoud also scored in the semi-final of the 2013 Emir of Qatar Cup, and Al-Sadd reached the final, only to lose it 2–1 against Al-Rayyan.


On 16 September 2013, Mahmoud signed for Saudi Professional League side Al-Ahli, signing a 4-month contract with the club.[14] He made his league debut on 23 September 2013, in Al-Ahli's 5–1 win over Al-Nahda, scoring Al-Ahli's opening 2 goals. Just over a month later, he scored his 3rd (and final) goal for the club in a 5–2 victory over Al-Shoulla. Younis ended his contract 2 weeks before the official end of it.[15]


In February 2015, after the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, Mahmoud returned to Iraq to play for Erbil, but only in AFC Cup games, because he did not want to compete in the Iraqi Premier League against his former club Al-Talaba.[16] On 15 April, he made his debut for the club against FC Ahal and scored 2 goals in the match (a header and a Panenka penalty), but could not prevent his side from being defeated 3–2 in the game. He was given the captain's armband for Erbil's next AFC Cup match against FC Istiklol, but the game finished goalless and Erbil crashed out of the tournament at the group stage.[17]


On 12 September 2015, Mahmoud returned to play for his former club Al-Talaba. He was given the captain's armband and the number 9 shirt and he scored 3 goals in the 2015–16 Iraqi Premier League (against Al-Karkh, Al-Samawa and Naft Al-Wasat) as Al-Talaba finished the league in 3rd position (their highest league position for 6 years). He renewed his contract for one year.[citation needed]

International career[edit]

Younis Mahmoud after scoring a goal for Iraq in 2011.

In March 2002, while many were questioning his temperament and lack of experience, coach Adnan Hamad named Mahmoud in his squad for Iraq's training camp in Italy and gave him his first start against Serie B club Cagliari Calcio and he later went on to score. Mahmoud's full international debut was against Syria in a friendly in Baghdad on 19 July 2002. His 1st goal came in the final of the 2002 WAFF Championship in the 89th minute to take the game to extra-time, where Iraq won through Haidar Mahmoud's golden goal. In his next match for Iraq, a 2004 AFC Asian Cup qualifier, he scored 4 goals against Bahrain and then went on to score a hat-trick against Malaysia. He scored 6 goals for the Olympic team in the 2003 Emir Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup, including a hat-trick against Al-Nassr and the only goal in the final against Morocco, as Iraq won the cup. His achievements in 2003 saw him get nominated for the Asian Young Footballer of the Year.

He was part of Iraq's 2004 Olympic Games qualifying squad and scored goals against Oman and Kuwait as Iraq managed to qualify. Mahmoud scored 1 goal in the 2004 Asian Cup against Saudi Arabia, and in the Olympic Games finals, Iraq finished in 4th place and Mahmoud scored 1 goal, against Portugal. Iraq participated in the 2005 West Asian Games and Mahmoud scored 3 goals in the tournament, including a goal in the final which Iraq went on to win to claim the gold medal. In the 2006 LG Cup, Mahmoud scored 1 goal as Iraq finished as runners-up. In 2006, Iraq participated in the Asian Games and reached the final but lost to Qatar; Mahmoud scored 3 goals in the tournament. In 2006, Mahmoud became the Iraq captain, taking over from Razzaq Farhan.

2007 was one of the best years of Mahmoud's career; he scored 1 goal in the 2007 WAFF Championship where Iraq finished as runners-up, and he scored 4 goals in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup including the winning goal in the final as Iraq won their 1st ever Asian Cup. Mahmoud won the top scorer award and the MVP award in the tournament, and finished 2nd place in the 2007 Asian Footballer of the Year award and 29th place in the Ballon d'Or 2007 vote, becoming the 1st Iraqi player in history to be nominated for the prestigious Ballon d'Or award. 2 years later, he won his final trophy for Iraq, the 2009 UAE International Cup, and that year he also participated in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, playing all 3 of Iraq's games and scoring an offside goal against New Zealand which was rightly disallowed.

He scored in his 3rd consecutive Asian Cup tournament with a goal against Iran in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Mahmoud scored 7 goals in qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup but Iraq finished bottom of their group in the final round and failed to qualify. At the start of 2013, Iraq participated in the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations and Iraq finished as runners-up; Mahmoud scored 2 goals in the tournament including Iraq's only goal in the final: a 2–1 defeat to the United Arab Emirates after extra-time. Mahmoud led Iraq to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup by scoring 4 goals in the qualifying rounds including 2 goals in the decisive match against China. He participated as one of Iraq's overaged players in the 2014 Asian Games and he scored 4 goals in the tournament as Iraq won the bronze medal. In the 2015 Asian Cup, Iraq finished in 4th place and Mahmoud scored 2 goals (against Palestine and Iran which saw him become the only player to score in 4 consecutive Asian Cup tournaments). On 28 March 2015, Iraq played a friendly match against DR Congo and the match saw Mahmoud become Iraq's most-capped player of all-time. Despite being 36 years old during Iraq's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Mahmoud was still Iraq's key player and he scored 4 goals in Iraq's group including a free-kick against Chinese Taipei to send Iraq to the final round. He announced his retirement from international football on 23 August 2016. Overall, Mahmoud scored 57 goals in 148 international matches.

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Iraq's goal tally first. Only senior team goals are counted.[18]
  Not a full international match

By years[edit]

Iraq national team[18]
Year Apps Goals
2002 5 1
2003 6 7
2004 12 2
2005 5 4
2006 10 8
2007 15 5
2008 11 0
2009 11 2
2010 8 2
2011 17 6
2012 9 5
2013 14 6
2014 7 3
2015 15 6
2016 3 0
Total 148 57

Famous international matches[edit]

  • 24 March 2002 – Iraq 1–4 Cagliari Calcio (Scored on his debut for Iraq but this was not an international match)
  • 7 September 2002 – Iraq 3–2 Jordan (a.e.t.) (Iraq were losing 2–1 to Jordan in the final of the 2002 WAFF Championship; in the last few minutes, Mahmoud was substituted onto the field and scored his first international goal in the 89th minute to send the match to extra time, and because of it Iraq won their first WAFF Championship)
  • 15 August 2003 – Iraq 1–0 Morocco (Scored the winning goal in the final of the Emir Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup)
  • 8 October 2003 – Iraq 5–1 Bahrain (Scored 4 goals, the most he scored in a single international game for Iraq)
  • 12 August 2004 – Iraq 4–2 Portugal (Scored 1 goal and played a big part in another as Iraq pulled off one of the best victories in their history)
  • 10 December 2005 – Iraq 2–2 Syria (6–5 on PK) (Scored Iraq's 2nd goal in the West Asian Games final with a first-time half-volley from outside the box)
  • 11 October 2006 – Iraq 4–2 Singapore (Scored 2 goals to help Iraq qualify for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup; the 1st one was a solo goal where he dribbled past 3 players and nutmegged another, and the 2nd goal was a long-shot from nearly 30 yards out)
  • 6 December 2006 – Iraq 4–0 Malaysia (Scored 2 goals in the same minute)
  • 21 July 2007 – Iraq 2–0 Vietnam (Scored the fastest goal in the AFC Asian Cup's history at the time (65 seconds) and also scored the 2nd goal from a free-kick)
  • 29 July 2007 – Iraq 1–0 Saudi Arabia (Scored the winning goal in the final of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup to win Iraq their first continental title)
  • 18 January 2013 – Iraq 1–2 United Arab Emirates (a.e.t.) (Scored Iraq's only goal in the final of the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations to send the match to extra-time)
  • 20 January 2015 – Iraq 2–0 Palestine (Became the 1st player to score in 4 different (and consecutive) Asian Cups (2004, 2007, 2011, 2015))
  • 28 March 2015 – Iraq 2–1 DR Congo (Broke the record for most international caps for Iraq with 138 caps, overtaking Hussein Saeed)
  • 17 November 2015 – Iraq 2–0 Chinese Taipei (Assisted the 1st goal with a cross after beating 2 players, before scoring his last ever goal for Iraq with a free-kick from 25 yards out)


Younis Mahmoud playing for Al-Wakrah in 2011.
Younis Mahmoud playing for Al-Wakrah in 2011.


  • Arab Police Championship: 2002


Iraq Olympic
  • Emir Abdullah Al-Faisal Cup: 2003


Personal life[edit]

Mahmoud is of Iraqi Turkmen origin and is a Sunni Muslim.[20] He has married three times.



  1. ^ "FIFA Official Website - Younis Mahmoud Profile". Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "AFC Cup 2015". Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "AFC Cup 2015". Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Younis Mahmoud – What next for Iraq's beleaguered captain? Hassanin Mubarak". Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "Iraq - Record International Players". Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  6. ^ What next for Iraq’s beleaguered captain? Hassanin Mubarak
  7. ^ What next for Iraq’s beleaguered captain? Hassanin Mubarak
  8. ^ Iraq 2001/02
  9. ^ 4th edition of the Arab Police Championship
  10. ^ Younis Mahmoud to return to Talaba
  11. ^ "Apr 2005 news archive". Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ السفاح يروج لاغلى البطولات في كتارا (in Arabic). Al Kass. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Younis joins Al-Ahli of Saudi Arabia". Younis Mahmoud. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  15. ^ ""The Slayer" ends his relations with Al-Ahli and leaves to Doha". Akhbaar24. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "أربيل يقدم يونس محمود ونشات أكرم رسميا للعب مع الفريق في كأس اتحاد آسيا" (in Arabic). Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Arbil 0-0 FC Istiklol". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Hassanin Mubarak, Roberto Mamrud. "Younis Mahmoud Khalaf – Century of International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Il "Facchetti" a Donadoni. Succede a Francesco Totti" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  20. ^ Greenwell, Megan (30 July 2007). "Jubilant Iraqis Savor Their Soccer Triumph". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Razzaq Farhan
Iraq captain
Succeeded by
Alaa Abdul-Zahra
Preceded by
Salih Sadir
Al-Talaba captain
Succeeded by