Emmanuel Baba Dawud better known as Ammo Baba (Arabic: عمو بابا, Syriac: ܥܡܘ ܒܒܐ) (born 27 November 1934 in Baghdad, Iraq – 27 May 2009 in Dohuk, Iraq), was an Iraqi football player and coach of the Iraq national football team. He scored the first international goal for Iraq in 1957 against Morocco at the 2nd Pan Arab Games in Beirut and later returned to the team as the coach in 1978. He is of Assyrian ethnicity.
|Full name||Emmanuel Baba Dawud|
|Date of birth||27 November 1934|
|Place of birth||Baghdad, Iraq|
|Date of death||27 May 2009(aged 74)|
|Place of death||Dohuk, Iraq|
|1951–1954||RAF Employees' (Assyrian) Club|
|1964–1965||Maslahat Naqil Al-Rukab|
|1967–1968||Maslahat Naqil Al-Rukab|
|1976–1978||Al-Tamim Province XI|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Ammo Baba emerged in the Middle Eastern football scene at the age of 16 at a 1951 Pan Arab School Championship in Cairo playing for the Iraq against the home nation Egypt. He had been discovered by Iraqi schoolboys' coach Ismail Mohammed while playing for the Liwa Al-Dulaim school province team. Mohammed gave him the nickname 'Ammo Baba' and advised him to move to Baghdad to play for one of Iraq's top teams. Ammo who is still revered by generations who never saw him play, was an instinctive out and out goalscorer, known for his bicycle kicks or backward double-kicks as they are known in Iraq, heading ability, and the power of his shooting. He had an opportunist's eye for goal but also displayed magnificent technique and virtuoso skill of a great footballer.
Ammo was born in Baghdad on the British controlled military camp RAF Hinaidi but moved with his family to live on the Civil Cantonment on the large RAF base in Habbaniya in 1937, where he first learnt to play the game of football. After playing for his school team, he moved to RAF Employees' (Assyrian) Club in 1951 replacing legendary striker and fellow Assyrian Aram Karam, where he played with other famous Assyrian footballers such as Hormis Goriel, Emmanuel "Ammo Simsim" Samson and Youra Eshaya. In 1954 he signed for Baghdad-based Haris Al-Maliki where he was a huge success, scoring bundles of goals, season after season. The prolific marksman was once the captain of a short-lived Arab national team during the mid-Sixties, in a Nasser-inspired experiment in Arab unity which failed due to the fact that, which Ammo Baba puts it 'no one wanted to play against us'. It had been the initiative of Arab radio station Sawt Al-Arab (Voice of the Arabs) in Cairo, and two of the best players from each Arab country were called up to take part in the team, from Iraq Ammo Baba, and Qais Hamed were selected. The team organised in Egypt did not play in any international competitions, managing only to play a few local teams in Cairo and Alexandria. Ammo Baba had been picked alongside Qais Hamed, and the team was able to beat Al-Ismaili, Al-Ittihad Alexandria, draw with Zamalek and lose to Tersana, with Ammo scoring the first goal for the Arab team, and hit another two goals against Al-Ismaili.
After brilliant scoring record for both Iraq and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, he was spotted by English 2nd Division side Notts County managed by former Iraqi military coach Frank Hill and was offered a contract to play for them, but when the call from Meadow Lane came, he could not leave the country, due to a sudden coup led by the Iraqi General Abdul-Karim Qasim on 14 July 1958. A year earlier another former coach of his, William Cook offered him a chance to play for Crewe Alexandra, then in the English Third Division and there were also offers from Chelsea and Celtic but Ammo decided to stay in Iraq.
By the age of 20, becoming one of Iraq’s most prolific goalscorers at both local and international level, with a near perfect 100% goal-scoring ratio from 1955 to 1960. As a player, he could adapt to any position, and played in defence, midfield and attack in his playing career.
A national championship winning coach at the age of 23 at Al-Athori, made even more impressive when you think it was done with an Assyrian only club policy, and in 1967, Ammo was coaching two teams in the Iraqi league.
He went on to play and coach Al-Athori (Assyrian Sports Club) to the Iraqi Cup Championship in 1960 beating his former employers Al-Jawiya 3-0 in the final, before returning to Al-Jawiya in 1962 after Al-Athori were relegated from the Iraqi first division. He later played for Al-Maslaha and Kuliya Al-Askariya before calling it a day in 1970.
Due to a serious injury he sustained in 1965 while playing for Iraq at the Pan Arab Games in Cairo, Ammo was nearly forced to retire from the game but returned to play for a further five years. He began his coaching career at Al-Maslaha (Passenger Transport) team in Baghdad in 1967 in a player-coach role. A year earlier while returning from injury, the Iraq FA named him coach of the Baghdad XI side for a match against East Germany however they were beaten 4-0 by the Germans and Ammo was relieved of his duties.
In 1978, Baba was appointed as Iraq's football military national team coach, leading the team to its third CISM World Military Championship title a year later beating nations such as Austria, Morocco, and Greece, on the way to the final where they beat Italy, on penalties.
The same year he was appointed as the head coach of Iraq's national team for the first time. He would be appointed and re-appointed on seven different occasions, during the 1980s and 1990s (see below for exact years). Iraqis often call the 1980s as the "golden years" of Iraq football, where Baba led the national team to numerous tournaments and many titles.
Iraq national team head coaching yearsEdit
- Note the Military Cup games are not counted, since they were not considered to be Class A national teams participitating.
|Ammo Baba Coaching Record|
|1978–1979||18||14||2||2||1978 Asian Games - 4th place |
Gulf Cup 1979 - Champions
|1981–1984||64||34||9||20||Merdeka Tournament 1981 - Champions |
1982 Asian Games - Champions
Qualified for 1984 Olympics
Gulf Cup 1984 - Champions
|1987–1988||40||23||6||11||Qualified for the 1988 Olympics games|
1988 Gulf Cup - Champions
|1988–1989||12||4||4||4||1988 Arab Nations Cup - Champions|
Ammu Baba was one of the few prominent Iraqis to openly confront Saddam Hussein's Uday, the president of the Iraqi Football Association. After the Iraq war all of his family, including his children, moved to Chicago where there is a sizeable Assyrian community, while he stayed in Baghdad, where he ran a football academy for teenagers. On 20 January 2006 the 71-year-old Baba was attacked in his home, where he was tied, blind-folded, beaten, and then robbed.
- Mubarak, Hassanin. "Ammo Baba: The Amazing Story Of Iraq's Football Legend". Goal.com.
- Mubarak, Hassanin. "Ammo Baba: The King is dead, long live the King". Iraqsport.wordpress.
- "Ammo Baba: Footballer and coach revered by the people of Iraq - Obituaries - News". The Independent. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "Middle East | Funeral held for Iraq football legend Dawud". BBC News. 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- BBC video interview
- Assyrian Sports : Hall of Fame : Soccer
- BBC reporting his funeral
- Mubarak, Hassanin. "Ammo Baba ... the football poet" (PDF). Iraqsport. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 19, 2003. Retrieved 2003-03-19.
- Hassanin Mubarak. "Player Database". iraqsport.com. Archived from the original on June 18, 2001.