A version of this interview appeared in Arabic on pal24sport.com
Mahmoud Wadi has set the Jordanian Premier League on fire. In his first football venture past Palestine’s borders, Wadi is the top goalscorer with six goals after just six rounds.
The 22-year old got his start with Maen a club in the fourth division of Gaza’s footballing structure. In early 2014, he moved to the top flight with Ittihad Khan Younes- and scored 20 goals in all competitions over the course of his one and a half seasons at the club.
His move to the more prominent WBPL would come at the onset of the 2015 season with Ahli Al-Khaleel.
Wadi’s goal totals to date
His goals for Ahli Al-Khaleel in the AFC Cup saw him set records. He became the first Palestinian to score in consecutive AFC Cup games, the second Palestinian to score a brace in the AFC Cup, and the top scoring Palestinian in Asian club competitions with five goals.
After a great to start to life with Ahli Al-Khaleel, Mahmoud Wadi was prevented from leaving Gaza to rejoin his club. The powerful striker’s career seemed in jeopardy, just when it seemed he was set for the national team and stardom.
To keep fit, Ahli Al-Khaleel allowed him to re-join Ittihad Khan Younes- and he managed to double his league goal total from a year ago whilst playing in Gaza.
In the offseason, he along with Mohammed Balah, managed to secure exit permits to leave Gaza and sign with Ahli Amman.
Football Palestine sat down with the player to find out how he is adjusting to life in Amman and his national team future:
FP: How did you and Mohammed Balah come to sign for Ahli Amman?
For a while, a famous Jordanian coach- Nehad Saquor- was in Gaza scouting and conducting training sessions. Mohammed and myself attended those training sessions and we caught his eye and after that he recommended us to Ahli Amman’s administration.
Based on his recommendation we were offered contacts and ended up signing with the club.
FP: How arduous was the trip from Gaza to Jordan?
It was a very tough trip, for a while we did not know if we could make it out of Gaza. I won’t get into details but we left at 9 AM on Monday morning and only got to Amman on Wednesday morning!
FP: Both of you have adapted very quickly to the Jordanian league. You in particular, have made quite an impression scoring in your first game with the club.
From the first day we were made to feel comfortable by our teammates and we were made to feel part of the group by our coach, Osama Qasim. Every time one of the players greets me they always say “Hey it’s our goal-getter!”
FP: Today you are the top scorer in Jordan with six goals in as many games. What’s your secret?
Firstly, I am blessed and have great support from my parents. Secondly, on a personal level, I am an ambitious person, I set goals for myself and I just ask “Why not?”
Thirdly, the manager Osama Qasim, and Ahli’s players helped me adapt very quickly to the style of the Jordanian League- which is different to the leagues in Palestine. My manager gave me a chance at the beginning of the season and I knew I had to grab it.
FP: You have not participated in any official match with the national team despite the fact that Jamal Mahmoud first tried calling you up in 2014. What are the latest developments?
I am eagerly waiting a chance to an answer the call for Al-Fida’i. If not for circumstances out of my control I would have been with the first team for a while now.
Just a few days ago, Abdel Nasser Barakat got in touch with me and we spoke about some things. I could not make it to the game against Bhutan in Palestine due to circumstances with the Israeli occupation. That said, I am ready to play my first game with the national team.