Iran has a rich history in soccer and has produced some very talented players over the years. Here are five of the best soccer players in Iran's history.
Ali Daei is considered by many to be the best soccer player in Iran's history. He was the all-time leading goal scorer in international soccer history, with 109 goals in 149 appearances for the Iranian national team (“Team Melli”) until Christiano Ronaldo broke this record in 2021. He played international soccer between 1993 and 2006 and was feared for his striking accuracy and specifically his headers.
Mahdavikia played for the national team from 1996 to 2009 and was part of the Iranian team that qualified for the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. He was known for his crossing, speed and dribbling. He scored 13 goals in 111 international matches.
Mahdavikia was a threat from set pieces (corners, spot kicks, and free kicks), thanks to his vision, passing skills, speed (his nickname in Iran is "The Rocket"), and pace. He is a model professional on the field and a model gentleman off of it, always making time to chat with fans and answer questions from the press.
His ability to "magically glide past his opponents like the enchanted carpet" earned him the moniker The Carpet (der Teppich) in his playing days in Hamburg.
Mahdavikia was one of the influential players that played in Iran's crucial 1–0 victory over Bahrain to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany.
Karimi is one of the most technically gifted players to come out of Iran. He played for the national team from 1998 to 2012 and is considered one of the best midfielders in the history of Iranian soccer. Karimi has scored 38 goals in 127 matches for Team Melli.
He was known as the “Asian Maradona” and “The Magician” due to his incredible on-ball ability, dribbling runs and playmaking skills. Although he competed in the 2006 World Cup he never managed to score in one of the three matches that Team Melli played (against Mexico, Portugal and Angola).
Rowshan played for the Iranian national team from 1975 to 1980 and is considered one of the greatest Iranian players of all time. He was known for his technical ability and was part of the Iranian team that won the Asian Cup in 1976.
Rowshan performed admirably during the Asian qualifying games for the 1978 World Cup. The team's victory and eventual qualification were greatly aided by his goals and assists. This achievement did not come without sacrifice, however, as his tireless running and deft skills in passing and dribbling made him a target for some rough tackles, forcing him to miss a number of games with a serious and protracted knee injury.
In the wake of Iran's disappointing performance at the 1978 World Cup with Rowsan only scoring one goal in the 4-1 loss to Peru, many observers claimed that the country would have fared better had Rowshan been at peak physical condition.
Hejazi is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Iranian soccer. He played for the national team from 1969 to 1980 and was part of the Iranian team that won the Asian Cup in 1972. He is also known for his heroics in the 1978 World Cup, where he played a crucial role in Iran's draw over Scotland.
Manchester United made an offer to Hejazi after the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He was with the team for a month, participating in practices and even a reserve match against Stoke City. Dave Sexton, manager of Manchester United, wanted to extend Hejazi's stay by two or three months before signing a contract with him, but the Iranian Revolution rendered the IRFF inaccessible, and the club instead signed Gary Bailey.