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  1. #6941
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    INTERVIEW WITH IRAN ASSISTANT DAN GASPAR


    After the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran was stormed recently, Dan Gaspar began to have second thoughts about continuing in his position as an assistant coach with Iran’s national team.


    “Any time these world conflicts are going on, I question my judgment,” Gaspar said last week. “But then I get up from my apartment, and I look out on my balcony after watching CNN and BBC and others. And I say, what I’m hearing is not what I’m experiencing and it’s not what I’m seeing.”


    Gaspar has achieved success in Iran, his latest stop on a coaching odyssey that began more than 20 years ago. Gaspar and head coach Carlos Queiroz have a chance to take Team Melli (the national team) to a second successive World Cup. Iran is in first place in Group D of World Cup qualification and 43rd in FIFA rankings, the top-rated Asian nation.


    “We’ve qualified for Asian Cup 2019,” Gaspar said in an interview conducted near his boyhood home in Hartford, Conn.'s South End. “If we tie with Guam and Oman, we’re in the next round, so if things go according to the way they should, we should be okay. But soccer is so unpredictable. It’s probably the most unjust team sport in the world. Most team sports, the best team wins, but as they say, you have to play the game, and anything can happen.”


    Gaspar’s travels began after he worked with Queiroz, who was coaching the Portugal national team during the 1992 U.S. Cup, a tournament designed to help preparations for the ’94 World Cup. Gaspar went on to work with teams in the UEFA Champions Cup, won a J. League title with Nagoya Grampus, and was an assistant in the last two World Cups (with Portugal and Iran).


    And after his stint with Iran, Gaspar hopes to return to the U.S., possibly with the national team program.


    “I don’t claim to be better than anyone else but I do believe that I’m unique and special in the sense that I’m an American-born coach who has had this incredible journey overseas at the highest level,” Gaspar said. “It’s one thing to read about (Cristiano) Ronaldo, one thing to dream about being in Champions League or World Cup, but nothing can replace doing it. So, being on the same pitch with someone like Ronaldo or like a Figo or a Deco, and knowing first-hand the attributes of these players and the speed of play and how they make decision and what their rituals and routines are – that’s something I can share and (bring) to the players that are here.”


    Gaspar learned the game from his father, playing in local semi-professional leagues as a teenager. He coached the University of Hartford, and was goalkeeper coach for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in MLS and the U.S. U17 team. Gaspar brought Zach Thornton to Benfica, and believes Thornton could have been the club’s starting goalkeeper had he arrived at the start of the 2003-04 season.


    In the late ‘90s, Gaspar and Queiroz prepared the Project 2010 report, commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation to develop elite players.


    “The U.S. is No. 1 in the world in the business of soccer,” Gaspar said. “And there’s a difference between being in the business of soccer and being in the winning business. And overseas it’s about the winning business. Most coaches here don’t have to worry about putting food on the table if they don’t have a soccer job, or not being able to pay their mortgage or provide education for their children. It’s not a life or death situation. Most of them have a pension plan. Most of them, their wives are school teachers, they have fall back positions. But they’re competing against coaches that if they don’t win their next 90 minutes they could be without a job and none of the privileges that are offered here in the US.”


    Gaspar said U.S. soccer has “made tremendous strides” since 1996, when he assisted Queiroz in guiding the MetroStars in MLS, but is lacking the elements that set other countries apart.


    “Under the current structure, MLS controls all salaries, and that leads to parity,” Gaspar said. “Just about everybody has a chance to win, with the playoffs, the championship. And, not having relegation and our season not on the FIFA calendar, we’re kind of isolated, away from the soccer culture.


    “We’re not a country, we’re a continent. The vastness makes it very difficult to keep the kind of control smaller countries have. Like Holland and Portugal. Because it’s much easier for them to identify players and control the development system, and in those countries every single person loves the game.


    “Also, there is the lack of bonus structures, really rewarding players for success. What is the level of bonuses (in MLS)? Overseas, it could be $5,000 to $10,000 per game, and if that’s the case, we’re not going to be real casual, we’re not going to be real friendly, we’re going to do whatever it takes for our families.”


    Iran’s political situation has changed in recent weeks, international sanctions having been lifted, followed by diplomatic relations being ruptured with Saudi Arabia.


    Gaspar, who has talked soccer with Iranian leaders from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to U.S.-educated foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is hopeful soccer can help with international relations, citing the 1998 World Cup match between Iran and the U.S. in Lyon.


    “That was the perfect illustration of how sports can bridge gaps,” Gaspar said. “How sports, in this case, soccer, can connect countries. If sports can get it right, why can’t politicians get it right? If we can all be on the same pitch, 22 players, play fairly, play competitively, shake hands before and after the match, why can’t we get along as nations? That‘s my challenge to the politicians.”


    Gaspar will return to Iran after the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention in Baltimore this week.


    “It’s the safest place I’ve ever worked, and I’ve worked on four continents,” Gaspar said of Iran. “I’ve never had any issues being a Portuguese-American. In fact, I’ve been very well-received. The people are kind and generous. They have the same desires and the same dreams and aspirations as people all over the world. There’s a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions.”


    But Gaspar was not sure what he was getting into when he joined Queiroz in Iran in 2011.


    “I accepted the invitation, one, because of my belief and trust in him of achieving success,” Gaspar said of Queiroz. “Number two, I had experienced the World Cup with the Portuguese national team in South Africa and that’s a feeling like no other, so I wanted to help Iran achieve qualification for the World Cup.


    “When I shared it with friends and so-called experts and family, they all thought I was crazy and nobody encouraged me to take on this unique project. But I’m a risk-taker and I did it. And when we qualified for the World Cup, that single event made it worthwhile, the personal and family sacrifices I needed to make, to achieve that joy.”

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  3. #6942
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malavani View Post
    man, he is an Arab, thats why you can't admit that not only he is much better than any player we have but he is also the best talent on the planet (check the video). He will become as good as Ronaldinho if not better.
    I also thought he was very technical and a great play maker for his team. But IMO, he is really slow and doesn't have the quick agility you'd see from top players.

    He is also not that physical and disappears when his team is defending.
    .... At the end I am nothing other than ordinary

  4. #6943
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    Fatholazdeh, ex-Esteghlal CEO says, Bastian Schweinsteiger told him that if Michael Henke becomes Esteghlal's manager, he is open to coming to Iran and playing for Esteghlal



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    (take it with a grain of salt of course)

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    Bastian Schweinsteiger in IPL? That would be awesome.

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    ^rofl lie of the millennium

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBoss View Post
    Fatholazdeh, ex-Esteghlal CEO says, Bastian Schweinsteiger told him that if Michael Henke becomes Esteghlal's manager, he is open to coming to Iran and playing for Esteghlal



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    (take it with a grain of salt of course)
    I give this the same odds as Iran winning the world cup. Twice in a row.

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    Afghan fan meets his idol Nekounam



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    Kafashian has been banned from giving interviews and being shown on IRIB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Joon View Post
    Afghan fan meets his idol Nekounam


    evyal, class act by Javad. hopefully we see this more in IPL and Volleyball. just like NBA, NFL, NHL and MBL there needs to be a fan day and fan appreciation event. i hope these athletics instead of forgetting themselves and losing themselves in social media they take time for this type of community activities
    IRI = FAILED

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    I actually don't see how the odds would be low if a retired footballer like Bastian Schweinsteiger would join a big club like Esteghlal.

    Schweinsteiger has been to Iran twice before in the past. Once with Germany and once with Bayern. On top of that the sanctions were just lifted.

    Stop following the crowd and automatically jumping to conclusion all the time.. Sheez.

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