April 16, 2024

AFC Asian Cup player in focus : Iran’s Sardar Azmoun

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AFC – TEHRAN, With a shock of dark black hair, boyish good looks and quick feet, Sardar Azmoun has quickly become known as the ‘Iranian Messi’.

However, it wasn’t a straightforward path to professional football for Azmoun, who played volleyball with the Iranian national team as a teenager.

After signing with Iranian giant Sepahan, Azmoun was quickly snapped up by Russian club Rubin Kazan, despite also receiving offers from Persepolis and Esteghlal in Iran and Inter Milan in Italy.

His first season in 2012-2013 with the up and coming Russian club was spent in the reserve team, before making his debut in a UEFA Europa League match in June 2013.

It was in the Europa League where he scored his first goal for Rubin Kazan, and from there he hasn’t looked back.

His international career has started as promisingly as his club career, scoring goals freely at youth level and drawing the attention of senior national team coach Carlos Queiroz.

In 2012 he became the top-scorer in the Commonwealth of Independent States Cup with seven goals in just six matches, and a year later was called into the senior national team.

He made the provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, although did not travel to the tournament itself.

However, just recently he scored his first goal for Team Melli in a 1-0 victory over Korea Republic in an international friendly.

With several European clubs circling, Azmoun looks set to play a role in his first major international tournament in the Asian Cup in January.