It must be one of the more unusual appointments in the world of international sport. Putting aside long-standing political disagreements, Iran has pocketed a respected British professional snooker player to coach its national team.
David Roe – using the Muslim name Davoud – underwent conversion and circumcision before a high-profile official ceremony in Tehran yesterday, Iranian media reported.
The coach, who began working in Iran last month, has been presented with a translated Qur’an and tickets to go on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
“I used to be a coach in Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain for several years, and I was au fait with Islam, but I was impressed by Iranian culture when I visited the country,” Roe was quoted as saying. He said he had decided to convert after visiting the shrine of Imam Reza in the city of Mashhad.
Roe, 45, originally from Derby, is a former world no 13 who played on the professional circuit from 1986 until he was relegated at the end of last season.
“He never struck me as a religious bloke,” a friend said today, “but it may have been a tactical conversion.”
In an interview, Roe praised Iran’s main three-man team – especially the talented Sohel Vahidi – but told the Snooker Scene blog they lacked match experience.