He is the middle child of two teachers, Kadim and Naghada, who before locking eyes in a Swedish classroom, left Iraq during the war in 1990. their children are in Sweden and were raised in Linköping, a metro of 165,000 with a large immigrant population.
They learned Swedish and English, and embraced the local culture. At home, they speak Arabic and keep family traditions, which started in the north of Iraq (mother’s side) and the south (father’s side). Her parents, Jeahze says, don’t want to talk about the past.
Jeahze (pronounced Ja-haz) has classmates and teammates with Syrians, Afghans and Somalis — first-generation families who fled the conflict to make better lives for themselves and others. their children.
“For me, it’s the perfect team,” Jeahze said. “We met people from all over.”
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His football career blossomed and he was invited to the Swedish youth national teams. It is not unusual for players from immigrant families to represent Sweden. The most famous is Zlatan Ibrahimović, the superstar player whose parents immigrated from Yugoslavia.
Jeahze’s Iraqi teammate, Amir Al-Ammari, followed a similar path as Jeahze, playing for Sweden’s under-19 team before committing to Iraq, the country of origin his father.
Jeahze is proud of his multicultural background and upbringing. In his heart, he said, “I mean Swedish and Iraqi.”
“In my head, I’m from Iraq, but everything I learn from Sweden: school, soccer, everything,” he continued. “I see myself as Swedish. When people ask, I say I was born here but my parents are from Iraq.
Jeahze’s road to the Swedish national team took longer than he expected. Coaches told him he was close to a call, but after a few years, “I was so close for so long,” he said.
He knew Jeahze’s roots, Iraqi football officials often visited. In 2021, he implemented a project that, like the country, was destroyed by the war.
“Football is important in Sweden,” he said, “but when I played for Iraq, I knew what people were thinking.”
At the start of his Iraqi stay, Jeahze was determined to prove himself on and off the field. “Some of them seem to be thinking, ‘You’ve been lucky all your life in Sweden. Nothing’s going to be easy for you here,'” he said. “I can’t do anything about it.” .Maybe they don’t think I’m Iraqi like they do.
Jeahze started three 2022 World Cup qualifiers and finished fourth. Often banned by FIFA from playing home matches due to security concerns, Iraq hosts most of its competitors in Qatar.
“That first game [against Syria]I was really proud, but if the fans were there, it would be better,” he said. “I thought about my family and how proud they are.”
Iraq did not qualify, finishing fourth in a group of six in the final round of the Asian group competition. Its only Olympic appearance was in 1986. Represented by the under-23 team, the Olympians were semifinalists at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
This winter, Iraq hosted an international tournament for the first time in more than 40 years, winning the Arabian Gulf Cup for the first time since 1988. Because he was going through the visa process US work, Jeahze is not in the company.
Before joining United, he played 2½ times for Hammarby, who finished third in the top division in 2022. Last summer, Jeahze was expected to move to Scotland (Celtic) or Turkey (Besiktas). Conversations are spontaneous. In the fall, United began a serious search.
Assistant coach Pete Shuttleworth attended Hammarby games and briefed Rooney and the coaching staff. United paid a transfer fee of about $ 750,000 and signed him until 2025, with a club option in ’26.
“Pete felt he fit into our system,” said Coach Wayne Rooney. “He is a very good footballer on the ball, very good left foot, comfortable in attack.”
In the training camp, Jeahze stayed with Icelandic midfielder Victor Palsson, who once played with a Swedish club, speaking Swedish. To help with Jeahze’s transition, Palsson joined him in Sweden.
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Palsson is on his second MLS tour after playing for the New York Red Bulls in 2012. Until a few weeks ago, Jeahze had never been to the United States. Asked if he had introduced Jeahze to anything new in America, Palsson deadpanned, “I’m trying to introduce him to salad right now because he needs to practice.”
Rooney has put a lot of effort into fitness. Jeahze, who in the DC system should run to the left and join the attack, is a little behind.
“I told him he needs to do some exercise. He knows it,” said Rooney. “We demand it.”
With the start of the season against Toronto FC 4½ weeks away, Jeahze knows he needs to do some work. United will play four games at the Coachella Valley Invitational, starting Wednesday against Charlotte FC (a 90-minute game) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (45 minutes).
“When DC showed interest, I thought it was a good thing,” Jeahze said. “I got it here. I like it here. Now I have to continue working and show the team that they made the right decision.