Monday, December 22, 2014

Iran All-time 23 member team

This is my selection of a 23-member all-time team for Iran.  Iranian players were also included on my all-team for West Asia.

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index

Iran 1998
Starting in 1960's, Iran has always been one of the best teams in Asia.  They won three straight Asian Cup between 1968 and 1976.  They also won the Gold Medal at the Asian Games in 1974.  They qualified for the Olympics in 1964, 1972 and 1976.  They qualified for the 1978 World Cup Finals.  They managed to draw Scotland in the group stage.  However, after the Iran Revolution of 1979, Iranian football regressed, largely due to the Iran-Iraq War that stopped Iran for playing internationally.  Iran reentered the international stage in 1990's and coincided with the birth of a Golden Generation of Iranian players.  In 1997, they eliminated Australia in the continental playoff and advanced to France 1998.  Led by Khodadad Azizi, Ali Daei, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Karim Bagheri, Iran fielded probably the best ever team at the World Cup Finals.  They beat the United States in the second match of Group stage, earning their first ever World Cup victory.  And because of the political difference between the two countries, the match was viewed as the most political charged match of the tournament.  However, both teams conducted themselves in a friendly manner before and after the game, and were rewarded with the Fair Play Award.  After 1998, a large number of Iranian players went to play and found successes overseas.  Team Melli went on to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 2006 and 2010.  

GK: Naser Hejazi
Considered as one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Asia.  He won the Asian Cup on two occasions in 1972 and 1976, and Asian Games title once, and competed in the 1972 Munich Olympics and 1976 Montreal Olympics and 1978 FIFA World Cup.

GK: Ahmadreza Abedzadeh
Ahmadreza Abedzadeh played for Esteghlal, Sepahan and  Persepolis.  He was capped 79 times and was the starting keeper at France 1998.  He captained two of the matches.

GK:  Ebrahim Mirzapour
He was capped 73 times for Iran.  He was a starter in the 2006 WC finals in South Africa, but he was unfairly blamed for the poor performance. He spent most of his career with Foolad.

RB/RM: Mehdi Mahdavikia
He was Asian Player of the Year in 2003.  He was a star in Bundesliga while playing for Hamburger SV.  He was chosen as their Player of the Year twice. He also played for played for Persepolis, Eintracht Frankfurt, Steel Azin, Damash Gilan He played in two WC Finals, 1998 and 2006.

Mehdi Mahdavikia

RB: Hossein Kaebi
He spent a season with Leicester in England, but never got his chance.  Kaebi won his first cap having just turned 16.  He was capped 89 times.

CB: Rahman Rezaei 
He spent 7 seasons playing in Italy.  Six of them were in Serie A.  He spent his best seasons with Messina.  He was probably the most successful Iranian defender playing in Europe. He played in the 2006 WC Finals, but was criticized by his performance there.

CB: Mostafa Arab
He made his national debut at the age of 16.  He won the Asian cup in 1968 and 1972.  Arab played for Iran at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.  He was very educated.  He held six master degrees from universities in the USA and Iran.   

CB: Hassan Habibi
He was a long-time captain of Iran national team that went to the 1964 Summer Olympics and won the Asian Cup in 1968. He played his club football with PAS Tehran.

CB: Mohammad Khakpour
Mohammad Khakpour was a part of the Golden Generation of the 1990's.  He played for a few clubs, including Persepolis FC, Pas Tehran, Vanspor, Geylang United and MetroStars (United States). He earned 52 caps.  He was a participant at the 1998 World Cup in France.

CB: Ebrahim Ashtiani
Ashtiani won the Asian Cup in Thailand in 1972 as well as the football tournament of the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran. He made 35 appearances for the Iran national football team from 1969 to 1974 and was part of the Iranian team competing in the football tournament of the Olympics in Munich 1972.  He spent most of his careers at Persepolis. 

LB: Mojtaba Moharrami
He was banned twice in football after a brawl in an Iranian league match and a fight with a referee during an Asian Cup game.  He was, however, a fan favorite in Iran and for his club team Persepolis.  He won a Gold Medal at the Asian Games in 1990 and then, an AFC Cup Winners' Cup in 1990-1991.
He is probably the most famous Iranian players in the world during the 1970's because he played with Pele in NY Cosmos.  He was a sweeper, but played RB and LB for NY Cosmos. For the national team, he won the Asian Cup in 1976 and went to the 1978 WC Finals. His son played for the USA.

DM: Hamid Estili
He played for many clubs such as Al Qadisiya Kuwait, Bahman, Esteghlal Jonoub, Geylang United and Pas, but his best years were spent at Persepolis.  He was capped 82 times.  He scored one of the goals that beat the USA at WC 1998.

CM: Karim Bagheri 
Bagheri was a star of Iran during the late 1990's.  He played for Arminia Bielefeld in Germany and Charlton Atletic in England. He played over half of his professional career for Persepolis in the Iran Pro League.   He was remembered for sparking the comeback win against Australia that led to Iran's qualification for the WC in 1998. 
Karim Bagheri

DM: Javad Nekounam
At the time of writing, he was capped over 150 times for Iran and is their captain. He went to the WC Finals in 2010 and 2014. He spent 6 seasons with Osasuna in Spain in two different stints. 

RW: Ashkan Dejagah
He was capped by Germany at the youth level, winning the 2009 European Under-21 Championship.  In 2011, he chose to represent Iran at the senior level and played in Brazil 2014. For club football, he has played in Bundesliga, the Premiership and the Qatari league.  

AM: Khodadad Azizi
Azziz was a star in the 1990's.  He represented Iran at the 1996 Asian Cup, 1998 FIFA World Cup, and the 2000 Asian Cup. He was named Asian Player of the Year in 1996, as well as the Asian Cup Most Valuable Player in the 1996 Asian Cup. Having played for three seasons in 1. FC Köln, he signed a contract with San Jose Earthquakes. In 2001, Khodadad Azizi was transferred to the UAE club, Al Nasr, before returning to Iran and joining Pas Tehran. In 2005, he signed for Admira Wacker in the Austrian Bundesliga. He is of Hazara ethnicity.

AM: Ali Karimi
He was Asia Player of the year in 2004.  He has played for Fath Tehran, Persepolis, Al-Ahli Dubai, Qatar SC, Steel Azin, Schalke 04 and Tractor Sazi. He spent two seasons with Bayern Munich, winning the League/Cup Double in 2005/2006.  He was capped 127 times.

AM: Ali Parvin
Parvin was considered the greatest Iranian player of all-time.  He won two Asian Cups in the 1970's and qualified for the WC in 1978.  He also played in the Olympics in 1972 and 1976.  He spent 18 seasons with Persepolis.
Ali Parvin

ST: Gholam Hossein Mazloumi
He was a star players in the 1970's.  During his time as a football player, he scored 37 goals for the Iran national football team and was Iran's all-time top scorer for twelve years before his record being broken by Ali Daei.  He was the top scorer at the 1974 Asian Games and the 1976 AFC Asian Cup.He won two Asian Cups(1972, 1976) and one Asian Games Gold Medal(1974).  He went to the Olympics in 1976 where Iran reached the quaterfinal.

ST: Ali Daei
Daei was capped 149 times. He is the world's all-time leading goalscorer in men's international matches with 109 goals.  He was considered one of the most successful Iranians playing in Europe.  He spent 5 seasons in the Bundesliga.  While playing for Hertha Berlin, he scored two goals against Chelsea in the Champions' League in 1999 which was considered one of the epic matches of the tournament. 
Ali Daei

ST: Hassan Rowshan
He won the Asian Games in Tehran in 1974 and Asian Cup 1976 in Tehran as well as reaching the quarterfinals of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.  He was the star player as Iran qualified for the WC Finals in 1978, but an injury limited his playing time in the Finals.  He started his career with Taj Tehran(Esteghlal F.C.) .  After the WC Finals in 1978, he went to play in UAE.

He is known for playing in Bundesliga between 1999 and 2010.  He mainly played for Bochum.  He also had a brief stint with Bayern Munich.  He went to the WC Finals in 2006.

Squad Explanation 
Iran has successes from the 1960's onward.  My team has a good balance of players from different eras.  The 24th player on my list is Ghafour Jahani.

Starting lineup
Formation: 4-2-3-1
Ali Daei is a striker who can hold the ball while I have three great playmakers behind him. The midfield is well-protected. I started Andranik Eskandarian at leftback over Mojtaba Moharrami.

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