Mohannad Jehzi arrives at DC United


Palm Desert, California – his name is Muhannad Jehzi and he D.C. UnitedNew left back.

“You can call me Mo,” he said on Monday. “It’s easier for everyone.”

His personal and professional story is a bit more complicated.

Jeahze, 25, is a Swedish-Iraqi national who, despite never having been to Iraq, committed himself to the national soccer team two years ago, and subsequently appeared in four World Cup qualifiers.

He’s the middle child of two teachers, Kazem and Nagada, who left war-torn Iraq in the 1990s before squinting in language class in Sweden. Their children were born and raised in Sweden Linköpinga metro area of ​​165,000 with a large number of immigrants.

They learned Swedish and English, and embraced the local culture. At home, they spoke Arabic and carried on family traditions that began in northern Iraq (the mother’s family) and the south (the father’s side). Jehzi said that his parents don’t like to talk about the past.

Jeahze (pronounced Ja-Haz) were classmates and teammates with Syrians, Afghans, and Somalis—first generations of families who fled the upheaval to make a better life for themselves and their children.

“For me, it was the perfect combination,” said Jeahze. “We met people from all over.”

Wayne Rooney says Everton have not approached him about the coaching job

His football career blossomed and he was invited to the Swedish national youth teams. It is not uncommon for players with immigrant families to represent Sweden. The most famous Zlatan Ibrahimovicthe star striker whose parents immigrated from Yugoslavia.

Jeahze’s Iraqi teammate, Amir Al Ammari, followed a similar path to Jeahze’s, playing for Sweden’s under-19 team before committing to Iraq, his father’s home country.

Jeahze is proud of his multicultural background and upbringing. “I feel like a Swede and an Iraqi,” he said in his heart.

He continued, “In my head I am from Iraq, but everything I learn is from Sweden: school, football, everything.” “I still see myself as Swedish. When people ask, I say I was born here but my dad is from Iraq.”

Jeahze’s path to the Swedish national team took longer than expected. Coaches told him he was about to call, but after a few years, “I’ve been close to him for a long time,” he said.

Aware of Jeahze’s roots, Iraqi football officials have been communicating regularly. In 2021, commit to a program ravaged by war, like the country.

“Football is important in Sweden,” he said, “but when I play for Iraq, I see how much it affects people.”

At the beginning of his tenure in Iraq, Jehzi felt he had to prove himself both on and off the field. “I felt like maybe some of them were thinking, ‘You’ve been lucky all your life in Sweden.'” Nothing will be easy for you here. “I couldn’t do anything about it. They probably didn’t think I was Iraqi like them.”

Jeahze started three matches in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and came off the bench in a fourth match. FIFA has intermittently banned home play due to security concerns, and Iraq hosted most of the qualifiers in Qatar.

That’s the first match [against Syria]I was really proud, but if there were fans, it would have been better.” “I was thinking about my family and how proud they are.”

Iraq did not qualify, as it placed fourth in a group of six nations in the final round of the Asian Confederation competition. The country’s only World Cup appearance was in 1986. The Olympic team, represented by the under-23 team, was a semi-finalist at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

This winter, Iraq hosted an international tournament for the first time in over 40 years, and won the Persian Gulf Cup for the first time since 1988. Because he was going through the American work visa procedure, Jeahze was not on the team.

Before joining United, he played two and a half seasons hammarby, who finished third in the First Division in 2022. Last summer, Jeahze looked set to move to either Scotland (Celtic) or Turkey (Besiktas). Talks stopped. In the fall, United began a serious hunt.

Assistant coach Pete Shuttleworth attended Hammarby matches and reported to Rooney and the coaching staff. United paid an estimated transfer fee of $750,000 and signed him until 2025, with the club having an option of 26.

“Pete thought he fit into our system,” said coach Wayne Rooney. “He’s a very good footballer, very good left foot, comfortable attack.”

At training camp, Jeahze roomed with Icelandic midfielder Viktor Pallsson, who, thanks to one season with a Swedish club, speaks Swedish. To help ease Jeahze’s transition, Palsson communicates with him in Swedish.

DC United’s Victor Palson is a “completely different person” on his first MLS stint

Palson is on his second MLS tour after playing with the New York Red Bulls in 2012. Until a few weeks ago, Gehzy hadn’t even been to the States. When asked if he introduced Jeahze to anything new in America, Palsson said in a stalemate, “I’m just trying to introduce him to power right now because he needs to get fit.”

Rooney focused heavily on physical fitness. Jeahze, who in the DC system would need to run the left flank and join the attack, is a little late.

“I told him he needed to work on his fitness. We’re pushing him,” Rooney said.

With the season opener against Toronto FC 4 1/2 weeks away, Jehzy realizes he needs to cut runs. United will play four games at the Coachella Valley Invitational, starting Wednesday against Charlotte FC (90 minutes) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (45 minutes).

“When DC showed interest, I thought this could be a good thing,” Jeahze said. “I made it here. I love this place. Now I have to keep working and show the club that they made the right decision.”

Leave a Comment