Albert Khoshaba was one of the most
outstanding footballers of his generation. As a youngster he started playing
football in Habbaniya alongside his friends and the airmen at the RAF base.
The talented left-sided player was one of the last players to come out of
Habbaniya after the likes Aram Karam, Youl Gorgis, Ammo Baba, Edison and Youra
Eshaya, who all started their playing careers there before moving onto greater
things in other places in Iraq.
Like many Assyrian greats, Albert participated in a variety of sports while
growing up at the RAF Base but there were no questions about what Albert
wanted to be when grew up, a footballer.
He started his playing career in 1954 when he joined the R.A.F.
Employees' (Assyrian) Club, a year later he was called up for his national
service and played for the Army team known as the 3rd Battalion
(Al-Fareeka Al-Thalatha) until 1957.
After his discharge from his military service,
moved across Baghdad and joined the Passenger Transport Department team (Al
Maslaha Naqil Al-Rakab), where he played for two seasons.
During the midst of uncertainty of life in Iraq brought upon after the 1958
revolution, Albert immigrated to the United Kingdom in 1959 in the hope of
However little under a year later, he became homesick and
returned back to Iraq. He quickly joined the Baghdad based club Police team
(Al-Shorta), where he was one of the star players in their team before he
returned to his former club Al-Maslaha playing alongside Mohammed Thamir,
Hormis Goriel, Qais Hameed, Mohammed Majid and Youl Gorgis.
Albert was distinguished from other players due to his agility,
calm and composed nature and his remarkable pace and speed, while he was also
a fine dribbler with the ball.
Albert was a regular in the Iraqi national team during the mid to late 60s
making nearly 40 appearances for Iraq alongside players such as Hamid Fawzi,
Hassan Balah, Jabar Rashak, Shidrak Yousef, Gorgis Ismail, Gilbert Awekam,
Mahmoud Asad, Nouri Dhiab, Hisham Atta Ajaj and Qasim “Zawiya” Mahmoud.
On the pitch, Albert was the matinee idol; his blond hair, olive skin and
broad smile enticed him to the fans, especially the girls, while off it, he
was boyish, modest and admirably intelligent.
One of his greatest accomplishments came in
late 1966, when he was selected by coach Adil Bashir to play for the Baghdad
Select team in the opening game of the Iraqi People’s National stadium against
Benfica of Portugal, who included the greatest player in the world at the time
Eusebio in their side.
Albert played on the left-side of midfield with fellow Assyrian
Shidrak Yousef in attacking midfield and Hussein Hashim on the right in a more
defensive position in a 3 man midfield, part of coach
Adil Bashir’s 4-3-3 formation.
Benfica went into half-time with 1-0 lead but 10 minutes into the 2nd
half Shidrak and Albert combined to set-up the equaliser for Captain Qasim
“Zawiya” Mahmoud, who hit a thunderous shot from 12 yards to beat the stranded
Alberto as he was sometimes known to his adoring fans because of his South
American or European style, even outshone Eusebio on the day as he picked up
the man of the match award however, he was unable to help his side to victory
as the Baghdad XI lost 2-1 with a goal from the Portuguese giants in the last
ten minutes of the game.
After the game, the 1966 World Cup star Eusebio came up to Albert commended
him on his excellent performance and exchanged shirts with him. During that
night, the Mozambique born Eusebio told everyone that he had never seen any
player as good as Albert on the left side of midfield.
During that game,
(1966 World Cup MVP),
came to Albert after the game at the field and took off his shirt and gave it
to Albert as it is ceremonial between players.
fakes and faints were incredible; his style of play was very European. As
many remember an incident that illustrates his talents and the fear he
installed in the opposing teams defense of the memorable game between Al-Ahli
team vs. The Military team. Albert was playing for Al-Ahli.
took the ball to the defense, as he usually does, and kept on dribbling
with the ball and all of a sudden, there was no ball !!!
was dribbling and faking on air ... he had passed the ball "back heel"
with the fake to one of his teammates, but he kept dribbling as if he still
had the ball to draw the defense, and the defenders followed him for a
moment realizing too late it was a fake.
pass surprised his teammate too, and even though he had an open goal, he
hit the side of the net, narrowly missed. keep in mind that The Military
Team's defense was probably the best defense in the Middle East. Prior
to that game, they stopped East Germany's all-stars from scoring, in a
page on the left was taken from his Olympic ID card for a game in January 1968.
Iraq missed on the Olympics as they placed second behind the hosts. During
the Olympic game in Thailand, Albert was the one who was holding the Iraqi
flag on the field, which at the time was an honour given only to select
International games played: 85,
including over 40 games for the Iraqi National Team.