What do Bobby Moore, Nashaad Akram and Jamil Mahmud all have in common ?
The answer, for those who don’t already know, is that they were all present at the final of the Iraqi football association in the northern city of Arbil on Saturday night.
And the event had all the excitement, fanfare, passion and euphoria of a major European title clash.
Postponed due to the war from 28 April - Saddam Hussein's birthday - the two Baghdad sides locked horns in the highlight of the Iraqi football season.
Both the Talaba (students) and the Al-Shurta (police) sides won their way through to Saturday night's final in the season-ending series of matches, which had been moved to the north of the war-ravaged country for “security reasons.”
Fans from the capital, who’d braved their way about 400 kilometres along perilous roads, started to arrive in mid-afternoon. Arbil's stadium was a hive of activity long before the teams took to the field.
It was Talaba that lifted the cup for the second year running, winning 1-0. The game was played in front of a near-capacity crowd of 13,000, AFP reported.
“Soccer and all sports suffered here for so many years,” 60-year old Iraqi Bobby Moore, a leading sports official in Kurdistan, told AFP.
“This game is the first big match since the fall of the regime,” added the man whose name is the same as the late Bobby Moore, the England footballing legend who captained his national side to its greatest victory in the World Cup of 1966.
“Now we can begin rebuilding Iraqi sport with sportspeople at the top and not relatives of Saddam.” he said, referring to the fallen dictator's son Uday, who was the head of Iraq's Olympic Committee.
Though Talaba won through, Al-Shurta looked the strongest side. There were moments of true brilliance from their 21-year-old Nashaad Akram, voted player of the tournament at the recent Friendship Championships in Morocco.
It was Talaba striker Ahmed Sallah who sealed the match in the 26th minute after he picked up a pass in Al-Shurta’s area and converted.
Talaba's captain, goalkeeper Jamil Mahmud, lifted the towering and rather garish double-tiered trophy, to the roar of some 5000 fanatical supporters.
In scenes reminiscent of cup finals in the UK, there was even an elated pitch invasion, coupled with spontaneous explosions of fireworks high above the stadium.