Former Overton soccer star Remezan Abdullah has signed with Juventus IF, a Division 3 professional team in Västerås, Sweden.
“I came here and messaged all these coaches – highlight videos, college experience, high school experience and this team just gave me a shot,” Abdullah said. “It gets my foot in the door. It’s something big for me.”
Abdullah, who has been in Sweden for 45 days, said the landscape reminds him of Tennessee except the ocean is nearby.
“Every team that we play the players are, like, two times taller than me,” said Abdullah, who is a 5-foot-8 midfielder. “But I’m quicker than them so it’s easier for me to get around sometimes.”
Abdullah, 22, played at Ancilla College in Indiana for one year after graduating from Overton in 2010. The District 12-AAA MVP had 26 goals, 12 assists and set a school record with 38 points as an Overton senior in 2010.
“I was working a job, going to school and playing soccer and it was very difficult for me,” Abdullah said. “There are 10 people in my family still living in one house. It was kind of difficult for me to do everything on my own, so I just decided I wanted to go pro.”
Abdullah, an American citizen, almost signed with an Iraqi team, but it was limited to two international players
Abdullah was born in a refugee camp on the Turkish side of Kurdistan.
“We didn’t have paperwork proving that I was born in Kurdistan, so that was a problem,” Abdullah said. “It just didn’t work out. As of right now, I do have an Iraqi ID, so maybe if the war calms down I might give it another chance. I do have an Iraqi citizenship as well.”
Abdullah’s journey to Sweden started at a soccer combine in Jacksonville, Fla., but no teams signed him there.
Coaches were impressed with his talent, so he went to another combine in San Diego. Then he went to a showcase tour in Sweden and looked for phone numbers of Swedish coaches on the Internet.
After contacting nearly 100 coaches with computer messages Abdullah met with the Juventus IF coach and signed with the team. He played his first game with Juventus on Saturday.
“It felt great,” said Abdullah, who still wears No. 9, the number he has won his whole life – dating back to his first two years with Antioch before he got to Overton.
He may have a chance to move up to a Division 1 team in January after Juventus’ season ends in October. Juventus is in third place in its league.
Abdullah moved to the U.S. when he was 6 months old.
“At the refugee camp there was barely any water, barely any food and I don’t know how my family and I survived, but the USA came in and took a lot of people back to America and we got a sponsorship and that’s how we started our lives in the U.S.,” Abdullah said. “Nashville holds the most Kurdish people in America and that’s like, 11,000.
“When we first came to America we went straight to North Dakota. That’s where our sponsorship was, but after that it was too cold so we came down south and we ended up going to Nashville.”