Faces of Football: Iran - a letter to the national team


Dear Iranian national team, 

I’m an Iran national team fan, and I have been for about 30 years. I could say 38, but I was born in 1984 and I am pretty sure I had no clue as to what football was back then, and who Team Melli were.

I love football, but I am proud to be an Iran fan for reasons that go much further than my love of the beautiful game.

I remember several special moments in Team Melli’s, but the most memorable for me was undoubtedly Khodadad Azizi's leveller against Australia in 1997, where we qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. I watched the game with my family, and I’ll never forget the jubilation when the goal went in.

I don’t live in Iran anymore, but every time I watch a game I picture my parents and my brother watching the game on different couches, in different places, cheering for the same players that I'm cheering for. 

In many ways, the national team keeps me connected to my country and my family. 

I currently reside in Dublin, so I will have the opportunity to watch the matches in some cheerful Irish pubs. Some Irish friends will accompany me to watch our matches against England and Wales, which will surely be a very fun time. I’m expecting my Irish friends to be cheering on Iran - especially against England!

Iran are expected to put in a good performance against England. Some fans believe we have a real chance of finishing second in the group and making it through to the last 16.

The tactical main feature of the current Team Melli side is defensive compactness and quick counter-attacks. I love how tenacious and hard-working our team is, and at the same time I enjoy how the team attack as a unit when the ball is won back. 

My favourite player is, without a doubt,Sardar Azmoun. After a successful 10-year career in the Russian League, he has recently moved to Bayer Leverkusen. With 41 goals in 65 appearances for Iran, he is going to be our star man this winter in Qatar.

I am proud to say that Iran has some of the most vocal and passionate fans across Asia, and we’re well known across the world for this. The first song, and possibly the most famous one,  that I remember singing in the stadium was ‘Hamle Hamle, Team e Iran, Gol Bezan Yalla Ghahreman’ and I am sure it will be heard in Qatar stadiums during the tournament. 

Now is a unique moment in Iranian history. The terrible death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died under suspicious circumstances after being arrested by morality police, has left a bitter taste in most of the nations’ mouths. In these times, the World Cup might not be a priority for some fans, but it would be wonderful for the national team to give us something to be proud of in Qatar. 

I wish you all the success in Qatar!