Iraqi football player Karim Saddam got his start in the Baghdad Division with Al-Sinaa and Al-Jaish prior to joining Al-Karkh, then known as Al-Rasheed. At the conclusion of the 1985-1986 season he was sent off to Al-Siaha, a quiet team in the country’s second-tier league, which nearly signaled the end of his stardom at the age of 26. He was saved from this fate by an invitation from Coach Falah Hassan of Al-Zawraa, soon to become one of the Iraqi Premier League’s top clubs, to join the team. Saddam won his first Iraq FA Cup in 1989 with Al-Zawraa and scored a league record of 22 goals over the course of the regular season. The team captured the cup twice more in succession, as well as the league championship in 1991. After coming up empty-handed the following year they regained the cup in 1993 and held it every year from then until 2000, except for 1997, but Saddam would not stick around for these victories, as he retired following the 1992-1993 season. Throughout this period, he was the country’s top scorer four times.
Prior to his club career, however, Saddam had a four-year stint with the Iraqi national team, beginning with a draw against East Germany in Baghdad in April 1982. At the 1984 Summer Olympics he played in all three of Iraq’s matches at the tournament, finishing with two losses and one draw and failing to qualify for the quarterfinals. His most memorable international moment, however, came in the qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup, when he was sent to the field to replace an injured Hussain Saeed in a match against the United Arab Emirates. Saddam scored the game-winning goal, setting the final score at 3-2, but its significance would not be revealed until Iraq lost its match 2-1 against the UAE a week later. Although the aggregate scores were tied, Iraq had a greater number of away goals (3 vs. 2), and thus Saddam’s goal ended up clenching Iraq’s first and, as of 2010, only World Cup appearance. In 2010 he ran for a seat in the Iraqi Parliament, along with his politically-opposed former teammate Ahmed Radhi.