FOR KING AND COUNTRY: Tribute to Nasser Hejazi & Pahlavi Era Soccer Champs


FOR KING AND COUNTRY: Tribute to Nasser Hejazi &  Pahlavi Era Soccer Champs
by Darius Kadivar

Legend, is what he was called in his native Iran. Nasser Hejazi was capped as the national goal keeper 62 times including capturing 3 straight Asian Cups and a World Cup Berth in 1978. Considered to be the best Asian goal keeper of all-time, Iran is currently mourning after laying The Legend to rest after a 2-year bout with lung cancer. There are plans to name astadium in his name in the capital of Tehran. ( See Related Article in the LA Times)

Recommended Readings:

Crown Prince Reza’s Eulogy for Nasser Hejazi

My Favorite Sport : An Interview with Reza Pahlavi by Arvand (

Nasser Hejazi on IRI Tv watches Footage from Iran’s 1978 Qualification For Argentina World Cup:

Also includes interviews with players like Ali Parvin and Hassan Roshan.

Iran national soccer team in 1978 and 1998 worldcups ( DVD Promo) :







Highlights on Iran’s National Team’s Success’ and Failures at International Soccer Matches 1970’s

Iran Vs South Korea 1972 Asian Cup Final :

Poland & Iran 3-2 Olympic Games 1976 :

Olympic Games in Montreal Iran against Poland

Iran 2 South Korea 2 World Cup Qualification 1977 :

Iran & Scotland 1-1 World Cup 1978 :






Humilating defeat at World Cup 1978 - Holland vs Iran :

Iran’s Humilating Defeat 3 to 0 in Favor of Holland Commented by Players:

Part I:

Part II:




Kiarostami’s Zangeh Tafrih aka Recess (1972) :

Part I :

Part II:


Download Kiarostami’s

The Traveler aka Mossafer (1974)


Also Download Kiarostami’s : The Traveler (1974):

Description: Made when he was only 24, famed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's first feature is a remarkably self-assured debut. Its youthful protagonist, Qassem (HassanDarabi), is a budding juvenile delinquent and devoted soccer fan who will do anything, including swindling his elementary school classmates and stealing from his parents, to travel the 400 hundred miles from his tiny village to Tehran so he can watch his favorite team play an important match. The Traveler makes plain that Kiarostami's genius for portraying the complex inner lives of children without resorting to excessive cuteness or cheap sentimentality was present at the beginning of his filmmaking career, and Darabi is an inspired choice as a lead actor. His sensitive eyes betray the tough exterior he displays in his hometown, and when he reaches Tehran, that toughness seems to melt into the natural curiosity of youth. Beautifully shot in black and white,The Traveler contains many of the seeds that would flower in later films like Through the Olive Trees and The Wind Will Carry Us.

Iran Say’s Farwell to a Legend (

Thisweek has been one of mourning for the Iranian football community. This week has been one in which it lost a man whose hypersonic reflexes inspired Team Melli to two AFC Asian Cup crowns during their halcyon days of the 1970s, was coveted by Manchester United, went down as Asia’s second-best goalkeeper of the 20th century and, above all, remained a righteous and humble gentlemen throughout his 61 years.

Andthough the candles went out on Nasser Hejazi’s life on Monday, following an 18-month battle against lung cancer, his memory will burn on infinitely. An absolute testament to this was the former Nader,Taj, Shahbaz, Esteghlal and Mohammedan No1’s moving funeral yesterday in his native Tehran.

Ina ground-breaking step, women were permitted to enter the Azadi Stadium for thefirst time at an official function. Three-thousand of them – including Hejazi’s daughter Atoosa, the Iran women’s national team captain, and her team-mates – were present along with theiconic figure’s family, friends and former team-mates. Fittingly, Hejazi’scoffin was laid in Azadi’s six-yard box, the scene of so many of his breathtaking saves for Iran and Esteghlal, before the man known as ‘The Legend’ was buried at the Behesht-Zahra cemetery.

Among the 20,000 lucky enough to be present – hundreds of thousands had wanted to attend - was Ali Daei, the world’s 109-goal all-time record scorer who was discovered by Hejazi as a youngster. “I have not come to bid farewell to our legend,” said the emotional 42-year-old. “Hejazi will remain alive in our hearts and minds forever. I learned many invaluable life lessons from Hejazi that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Born in the Iranian capital on 19 December 1949, less thansix months before Iran played their first FIFA international, Hejazi quickly set his sights on using his hands to become a professional sportsman. Curiously, though, he yearned to throw a basketball rather than catch a football for a living, and represented his country at youth level at the five-a-side court game.

« I have not come to bid farewell to our legend. Hejazi will remain alive in ourhearts and minds forever. I learned many invaluable life lessons from Hejazi that I will cherish for the rest of my life. »

- Ali Daei

However,an injury to his high school football team’s goalkeeper proved the catalyst inthe teenager’s conversion to grass. The side’s coach viewed Hejazi, who was tall and athletic, as the ideal deputy and, although the student politely declined his elder’s invitation initially, he was eventually persuaded to stand between the sticks for a one-off match. In it he kept a clean sheet. In it hefell in love with football. Basketball became a hobby rather than a careeroption.

Hejazimade his debut for minnows Nader, before joining Taj (the club became known asEsteghlal in 1979) in 1967. Two years later, the club installed Zdravko Rajkov,who also coached Iran, into its dugout. The Yugoslav swiftly promoted Hejazi into the national squad and handed him an international debut as a 19-year-old that September, whenTeam Melli beat Pakistan 4-2. Back at Taj, Rajkov and Hejazi combined to help the side become Asian club champions in 1970, with the latter keeping three clean sheets in four games en route to gold.

But if that was Hejazi’s zenithat club level, it was not his career meridian. Indeed, he helped Iran win the AFC Asian Cup in 1972 and ’76, producing a memorable performance in a2-1 defeat of Korea Republic in the former’s final and a shut-out of Kuwait inthe latter’s. Hejazi also represented his country at the Men’s Olympic FootballTournaments of 1972 and 1976 and the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina™, where hishighlights included a superb one-handed stop to deny Scotland’s Joe Jordan in a 1-1 draw and a fine save from the vaunted left foot of Peruvian Teofilo Cubillas, despite the Western Asians’ 4-1 loss. Those moments prompted Manchester United to hand him a trial and though the English giants wanted tosign Hejazi, political problems in his homeland prevented him from making the move to Old Trafford.

Hejaziplayed his 62nd and last game for Iran in a semi-final loss to Kuwait at the AFC Asian Cup in 1980. Six years later and 19 after he first signed for Esteghlal – he had a three-year spell atShahbaz in between – the shot-stopper left his homeland for one last season in Bangladesh,where he played 31 times for Mohammedan, going on to coach them in his secondyear in Dhaka. Upon his return to Iran,he assumed the reins at nine clubs - including Esteghlal, whose 1997/98 Iranian top-flight title he masterminded - between 1988 and 2007.

Andthough that was his last occupation in football, the sport stayed with him until the very end. Indeed, when he was taken into coma on Friday, from which he did not awake, he was watching his beloved Esteghlal play PAS Hamedan on television. Fittingly, the Tehran giants won – and kept a clean sheet.

In a letter to Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) President Ali Kafashian, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter wrote: “It is with a sad heart that I write to you,having learned of the tragic passing of Nasser Hejazi– a legendary former football player. On behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football, I wish to extend our condolences to you, the Iranian football community and, most importantly, Nasser Hejazi’sfriends and loved ones. Please let them know that today the football community stands by their side.”

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