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Star striker will not play for national team "until a major change in our football system"

By Nader Jahanfard
April 22, 2004
iranian.com

Nader Jahanfard in San Jose, California, is a correspondentfor Irankicks.com where this piece originally appeared. You can debate and exchange views here on this inteview with other Irankicks Discussion Board members.

This morning when I called the Bochum striker Vahid Hashemian, I was full of hope. Deep inside I was filled with anticipation; I wanted to hear something different. I imagined Vahid in our national team scoring goals against our rivals in Asia. I pictured him in the front line attacking our opponents with no mercy!

I wanted to read the headlines all over the world that Iranian striker Hashemian has led our team to Germany 2006! I really wanted to believe that. Do you know why? Because Vahid is worth it, he is a very good football player, he is on top of his game, he is one of us.

When I started questioning him about Team Melli, he was not very happy talking about his situation with the national side. He told me that he is tired of everybody focusing on this issue. I really wanted to hear this from Vahid himself, that was my main focus of this particular issue today.

I congratulated him for his recent contract with the German giants Byern Munich and asked him about it. He said:

As you all know Byern Munich is one of the top teams in the World, playing for them is an honor. I had many other offers from different clubs in Bundesliga but I chose Byern Munich. Almost all the players in Germany like to play for this team, I am happy that the deal went through.

Given the fact that you are a first team player in Bochum now, are you not afraid of being benched in Byern Munich because of the fierce competition among the players in this team? Do you remember that Daei also did not get much playing time there?

Mr. Daei was one of the pioneers in Bundesliga, out of about 34 games he played in 23 of them and that is not a bad record. I believe that no one should be afraid of things like this, with hard work and consistency I can be a fix player in Byern. I am not going to let anything stop me from getting ahead in this team.

I am going to ask you about Iranian National team. I want you to once and for all talk about your decision so we can all get a better picture of what's going on.

It is every player's dream to play for his National team; it is an honor. Playing for your country is like getting an honorary doctorate. Players have to help their National team but at the same time the federation and coaches have to help the players too. I really worked hard for about two years to help Team Melli, but I did not get any positive response.

They benched me and paid no attention to where I was or what I needed. Now the IFF is trying to take advantage of the situation, I cannot let that happen! They did not let me flourish when I needed to, now it's too late.

You met Branco Ivankovich recently. What did he have to say to you?

I went to Iran for the winter break and met with Mr.Ivankovich. I gave him my reasons and he accepted them. Branco also traveled to Germany, we had a brief meeting in which I emphasized on what we talked before, he knows that nothing has changed. I told him that until we have a major change in our football system, I would not play for the National team.

IFF has many problems and issues with organization and planning. They have not been kind to me, I feel bitter about many things. Many people have lost their ability to play good football because of these problems.

In your view what should be done to correct this?

I am not an expert on this issue but all I can say is; we have many old timers with vast amount of knowledge in that country of ours, IFF has to seek their help and use their knowledge for the good of Iranian Football. When Bochum was on the German 2nd division, I was really trying hard to be a useful member for the team. IFF nearly destroyed my chances at one point to achieve this.

No one came to me to ask why I left Team Melli after Two games? Age is a big factor in a Football player's career. I cannot be a victim of their mismanagement!

But this is the way it is for all the players and you are not the only player who went through this?

I have made the decision with my mind and not with my heart, as you see I am getting good results because of it! In our system if you are from Persepolis or Esteghlal they give you all the support, but all the other teams are left behind, they don't get much attention. I guess because I was a Paas player they treated me this way.

Once and for all please tell me about the rumors that Daei is the main reason for you not joining the National team!

This is absolutely NOT true! Our team can always play with 2 or 3 strikers, they can always use both of us in the same team. As a matter of fact Mr. Daei's position is center forward, he plays in a different position than I do. Mr. Daei is an honorable man, I have a lot of respect for the man, we have no problems with each other. I believe some Newspapers want to make him look bad so they come up with lies like this!

Vahid jaan, you are telling me that if Iran makes it to Germany in 2006, you are not going to miss playing for your National side?

My conscious is clear. I will be very happy if Iran makes it to the World Cup. I even promise you to go to the airport and greet each player. But I am hoping that we do this without any side issues and controversy.

What are your thoughts on Mr.Ivankovich?

I have not had a chance to work with Branco but he has a good record. He was great in Busan, he is getting good results with the team, I wish him all the best.

How do Germans deal with Iranian players in Bundesliga?

Well every one has a different opinion about this. By now Germans are used to seeing Iranian players, we are not strangers any more. I have a good relationship with the Bochum organization, we are getting good results right now. I am very comfortable in Germany in general.

When do you start with Byern Munich?

I start practicing with the team on July 1st.

What are your thoughts on Iranian football?

We are the best in Asia. We have many talents but we have to find a way to use them. Our players have a great level of skill, we must find good coaches to direct these players.

Any message for football fans?

I wish them all the best. Please tell every one that I do not want to talk about my issues with National team any more. It's getting to be annoying now!

Thank you Mr. Hashemian for your time.

I wish you great success in the future.

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