German soccer clubs find bargains galore in Iran
By Marc Moeller, dpa
July 22, Hamburg (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) - German soccer clubs have
discovered Iran as a cheap market for new players. The Gulf country has
become fashionable in the Bundesliga since Iran 's strong showing at last
year's World Cup finals. (See
The latest club to go shopping in Teheran is Hamburg SV which has bought
national striker Vahid Hashemian for just 750,000 marks (about 400,000
dollars), a bargain-basement price compared to the inflated fees demanded
by European clubs.
The 22-year-old forward, who has scored four goals in eight appearances
for the Asian champions, joins the northern Germans from Pas Sport Club
The financially less well off Bundesliga clubs have now changed the
emphasis of their search for new players. Not so long South America was
the place to look for bargain buys, but now millions have to be paid for
even unproven Latin American talent.
Ten Iranians are now on the books of first and second division Bundesliga
In the top division are: Ali Daei (Hertha Berlin), Mehdi Mahdavikia
and Vahid Hashemian (Hamburg), Darious Yazdani (Leverkusen) and Karim Bagheri
Second division players are: Sergik Teymourian and Sirious Dinmohammed
(Mainz), Seyedali Mousavi and Medhi Paschazadeh (Fortuna Cologne) and Khodadad
Azizi (FC Cologne).
``Even more Iranian players will be on their way to Germany in the
forseeable future,'' forecast Mehrdad Nazemi, who is acting both as Hashemian's
adviser and translator.
Nazemi, who was physiotherapist for the Iranian national side between
1994 and 1997, is convinced the Iranian players have the quality and mentality
to be successful in the Bundesliga.
``The players live for football, are technically very good and do things
wholeheartedly,'' he said.
``Apart from that they have a very European football mentality which
helps them integrate easily.''
Yet it is integration which remains the biggest problem. Although most
players endeavour to learn German quickly the use of the language is usually
restricted to the usual footballing terms.
Normal communication outside of training has been difficult, and as
a result many of the Iranians are isolated within their clubs. It was noticeable
that when Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri played together at Bielefeld the two
could were usually cut off from the rest of the players.
Discussions on politics and religion is also a taboo. The Iranians
usually stonewall any questions on these issues, with the response: ``We
are here to play football.''
Daei, in an interview this week in Sport Bild, said the lack of knowledge
in Germany about Iran , as well as the language problems, often led to
He called for people to be ``more respectful with our beliefs'', and
promised his German would be good enough by the end of the coming season
to give his first interview in German without a translator.
Meanwhile the fear of the fundamentalist regime is ever present. After
the Islamic revolution 20 years ago, the Iranian football federation was
put under the supervision of the state authority for physical fitness,
headed by the deputy president who in turn appoints the presidents of the
national sporting bodies.
Daei and Bagheri led the Iranian influx when they joined Bielefeld
in 1997 for a reported combined fee of just 450,000 marks.
Daei, ``world's leading goalscorer'' in 1996, proved to be a wise investment.
A year later Bayern Munich paid around five million marks for the forward.
Daei moved in the close season to Hertha Berlin for the same fee.
Hamburg are meanwhile hoping their new Iranian will prove to be a similar
bargain. Trainer Frank Pagelsdorf believes Hashemian could be one of the
discoveries of the season.