Tasnim – KUALA LUMPUR, Iranian players Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Reza Ghoochannejhad have nominated for the Asia’s greatest Eredivisie player.
Born in Mashad and spending the majority of his childhood in the Netherlands, Ghoochannejhad spent four seasons plying his trade in the second tier Eerste Divisie in his early twenties, but it is his more recent exploits which have earned a place on the shortlist.
After stints in Belgium, England, Qatar and Kuwait, an outstanding 2016-17 season saw the Team Melli forward finish second in the Eredivisie scorers’ race, netting a history-making hat-trick against PSV Eindhoven in the process.
Eight more goals the following season preceded moves to Cyprus and Australia, with the man known as ‘Gucci’ returning to Dutch football with PEC Zwolle at the beginning of the 2019-20 season.
Also, many Asian players have made an impact in European leagues, but Iranian winger Jahanbakhsh is one of a very select group to have finished a season as the top goal scorer in a top-flight competition.
A stellar return of 21 goals in 33 matches in the 2017-18 season included two hat-tricks, and was complemented by 12 assists, but Jahanbakhsh’s brilliant final campaign in the Eredivisie was the culmination of five years of groundwork.
A shining light at NEC Nijmegen, and the club’s Player of the Season in their 2014-15 promotion campaign, he went on to star for AZ, finishing with 39 goals and 31 assists in just over 100 Eredivisie appearances.
The Iranian duo will compete with Fandi Ahmad (SIN), Brett Holman (AUS), Huh Jung-moo (KOR), Jason Culina (AUS), Lee Young-pyo (KOR), Park Ji-sung (KOR) and Shinji Ono (JPN) to be named as the greatest player.