IRAQ. Nashat Akram: 67 caps Age 24 FC Twente Midfielder, 9 goals.
Akram's star's play-making prowess was the reason behind Iraq's unexpected victory in the 2007 Asian Cup, which sealed their ticket to the Confederations Cup. His ability caught the eye of the Premier League and last year he was awarded a trial with Manchester City But a potential deal fell through when he was denied a work permit by the British government because Iraq's Fifa ranking was below the top 70.
City's then coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was seduced by his "elegance".
Akram will play for Steve McCLaren at Dutch side FC Twente next season after signing a three-year contract last month, becoming the first Iraqi to play in the Dutch league and only the second to play in Europe after Hawar Mulla Mohammed Taher Zeebari joined Cypriot club Anorthosis Famagusta. The 2006 Iraqi player of the year has previously had spells with Qatari club Al-Gharrafa, and United Arab Emirates club Al-Ain in 2007. He made his international debut aged 18 in 2002. - Sapa-AFP