Mahmoud's war story is also famous, Montague notes, having moved to Qatar to be with his family despite that he could have easily taken offers from various European teams to join them.
Many of Mahmoud's teammates went through hell, some telling of torture by Saddam Hussein's son Uday when they didn't perform well on the field.
And then there's the specter of violence tied to matches past.
During the semifinal of the 2007 Asia Cup win, two car bombs went off in Baghdad killing scores of people.
"The match today is a sign that things are improving," said Montague. "It's also a huge test for the government. But for Iraqis, football is everything. The return of football is a return to normality."