Ahmed Al Ghamdi: From Canada to Saudi Arabia, now shining at Al Ittihad

Ahmed Al Ghamdi didn’t have the typical childhood that most other Saudi Arabian players his age enjoyed.

While his teammates may have grown up eating Luqaimat and watching Japanese Anime on MBC3, Al Ghamdi instead was partial to pancakes with maple syrup and listening to American rappers 50 Cent and Usher.

Oh, and he loves Quentin Tarantino movies.

That’s because, unlike his teammates, the Al Ittihad midfielder, who joined on loan mid-season from Al Ettifaq, didn’t actually grow up in Saudi Arabia.

Despite being born in Jeddah, Al Ghamdi spent his formative years 12,000 kilometres away in Vancouver, Canada, where his parents moved when he was only one year old.

It meant Al Ghamdi, now 22, had a very different upbringing, one he says gives him “a different perspective on life”.

“You get introduced to all different cultures from around the world,” he said in a recent interview with Saudi newspaper Arab News. “All different kinds of immigrants. You learn new things, new customs, and you just understand everything through a broader perspective.”

Attending the highly regarded St George’s School on the edge of downtown Vancouver, Al Ghamdi had the typical North American high-school experience.

He grew up playing basketball, attended his high-school prom, and had even been accepted into the prestigious University of British Columbia, which counts Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau among its alumni, to study medicine in the hope of one day becoming a doctor.

But Dr. Al Ghamdi will have to wait, because before everything else there was football, a passion passed down from his father.

“Obviously, when you’re in North America, football isn’t the biggest sport; it’s more ice hockey and basketball,” he said.

“At school, they always gave you opportunities to play different sports and, at the time, I was really into basketball. Even now I still love watching the NBA.

“When I was younger, I used to play on the teams there, and you could say it helped develop my athletic ability as well.”

It’s an ability that’s now on full display for Al Ittihad, where Al Ghamdi has made himself right at home since his mid-season switch from Ettifaq.

Having found opportunities limited with the Dammam club – he featured 11 times in the Roshn Saudi League during the first half of the campaign - where he had played since returning to Saudi Arabia in 2021, Al Ghamdi has seized his opportunity to impress under a new manager in Marcelo Gallardo.

A first goal for the defending RSL champions last time out in a 4-2 win against Al Fateh, in what was his first start for his new club, underscored his growing confidence with Gallardo’s guidance.

Picking the ball up on the edge of the area, Al Ghamdi took a controlling touch before curling home a stunning goal into the top corner.

For someone so quiet and mild-mannered off the pitch, the celebration in the corner, with his arms outstretched, told the story of a young man growing in self-belief on it.


Here he was announcing himself to the world in a game broadcast around the globe. After the match, though, the quiet and humble Al Ghamdi returned.

"This is thanks to my teammates, the coach and all the staff who put their faith in me," he said when asked about his goal.

On which position he preferred to play, Al Ghamdi added: "It doesn't matter to me whether I play on the right or left. The most important thing is that I can help the team keep possession and create chances."

Against Al Fateh, he started in an advanced midfield three, in a 4-2-3-1 formation, alongside the likes of Jota and Romarinho, and didn’t look out of place in an assured performance in which he also provided an assist for Abderrazak Hamdallah’s second goal of the evening.

From his first minutes for Al Ittihad, off the bench against Al Tai at the start of February, through until the start and goal against Al Fateh, Al Ghamdi’s increasing confidence in the side has been noticeable with every passing game.

There’s a belief now, that perhaps hadn’t existed in the past, that he belongs at this level. What that means for the remainder of the season, and the future beyond, will be exciting to see.


Returning to Canada most off-seasons, where his brothers still live and study, the reserved Al Ghamdi admits even he has allowed his mind to wander and dream of the ultimate ‘homecoming’ in the summer of 2026, with the FIFA World Cup staged, in part, in Canada.

That, however, remains some time away. More immediately, he will be hoping to continue the form that has seen him emerge as one of the league's most exciting young talents.