April 17, 2024

AFC 60th Anniversary: Ali Karimi, A True Asian Icon

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AFC – TEHRAN, The charismatic Karimi will undoubtedly go down as one of Iran’s greatest footballers who, on his day, could dazzle Iranian and Asian football fans with his silky passing, unbelievable imagination and light feet as he orchestrated attacks for club and country.

Standing proudly alongside other Iranian football legends such as former team-mates Ali Daei, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Karim Bagheri, Karimi is third in the all Karimi8time Team Melli scoring chart with 38 goals from 127 matches in an international career that was not without its tensions as major disagreements between strong personalities were not uncommon in Iranian football over the years.

Top scorer as Iran finished third at the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, Karimi has also helped Team Melli win the 1998 Asian Games gold, two WAFF Championships and a 2003 AFC/OFC Challenge Cup title in which he scored twice in a 3-0 win over New Zealand and was named MVP.

The Karaj-born attacking midfielder was even more successful at club level and after winning two league titles with Persepolis and two UAE Cups with Al Ahli, Karimi followed in the footsteps of compatriots Bagheri, Daei, and Mahdavikia and made the move to the German Bundesliga.

Karimi, nicknamed ‘the Asian Maradona’ by fans in Iran, won the 2005/06 league and cup double with Bayern Munich before winning his second DFB Cup winner’s medal with Schalke 04 following a brief spell back in Germany in 2011 following a stint in Qatar with Qatar Sports Club and Al Siliya and two seasons back in Iran with Steel Azin.

After his second stint in Germany Karimi returned to Persepolis for a third stint at the Tehran giants before calling time on an illustrious career that spanned almost two decades at his final club Tractorsazi Tabriz, where he had a final cameo appearance on Asian club football’s biggest stage, the AFC Champions League.