Ex-Bolton Wanderers striker Alexander Samizadeh’s fight to save football career

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The Bolton News – BOLTON, There was a time not so long ago when Alex Samizadeh’s prolific goalscoring in the youth ranks at Wanderers made him the name on every fan’s lips.

The Iran-born striker had ripped it up for Nicky Spooner’s Under-18s and David Lee’s development squad, creating an internet buzz the likes of which we have not seen since.

Offered a professional deal by Neil Lennon before his league debut at 17, Samizadeh looked to be following quickly in the footsteps of Rob Holding, Zach Clough, Josh Vela and Co.

But the contract was never signed. Samizadeh played just eight minutes more for Wanderers and five years later is seeking to rebuild his career, clear his name and reputation after a battle against depression, an arrest over falsified passports, and an ill-advised move to the Scottish Premiership.

Now 23 and technically still eligible to play the level at which he had impressed for Bolton, Samizadeh is making his mark on social media again – only this time with a series of spectacular goals and celebrations for Leatherhead in the Isthmian Premier Division.

Born in Tehran, Samizadeh moved to the North West in 2013 and started playing for Curzon Ashton, where his goals earned a trial with Manchester City, and later, with Bolton.

Within 12 months he had impressed to the point that Neil Lennon had offered him the chance to turn professional – but the striker now looks back with some regret that he never put pen to paper.

“He (Lennon) actually took me in the office to ask why I am not signing,” he told The Bolton News. “I said I would, but then a day later I think he left office.

“I wish I would have signed that contract and remained a Bolton player. I could have gone on loan to gain experience. I would probably not have stopped playing and probably would have been in the starting 11 in League One.

“God only knows the reason why this has happened and unfortunately I can’t predict the future so I’m happy and blessed and always grateful no matter what.”

Lennon’s departure put Jimmy Phillips and Peter Reid in temporary charge for the end of the 2015/16 season, which led to a fleeting appearance off the bench at Brentford.

The next man in the hotseat, Phil Parkinson, had his own ideas for how his attack should look and though he played briefly against Blackpool in the Checkatrade Trophy the following season, the gears were already in motion for his exit.

Did he get the chances he deserved? Time has changed his mind somewhat.

“The chance to be able to make my debut and be around the first team squad just at 17 was a huge opportunity and I’m so grateful for that,” he said. “At that time, I probably would have said no, but now, yes, I’m realising that the manager’s job and the position the club was in was crucial and probably not the right time to be able to progress young players, specially when Parkinson the manager was trying to keep the club in the Championship. But we both know It is all about opinions.”

Samizadeh was thankful for the support he got in the academy – especially as it quickly became clear that Parkinson and the Wanderers hierarchy was not going to offer another chance to play professionally.

“I had a good relationship with the coaches in the academy,” he said. “A trial at Derby County was organised by David Lee, and if I’m not wrong it was one of his contacts who took me there.

“I think they knew they were going into administration and maybe he wanted to help me and continue my development. But afterwards I got the blame for it because I was looking to move.

“Kilmarnock and the decision of wanting to move was because I been offered a professional contact the year before, made my debut in the Championship, then during a meeting at the end of the season I had been told that ‘I’m not good enough and that I don’t know how to play football.

“But they were still happy to offer me a third year (scholarship) contract? That was not making sense to me at all.

“I didn’t know anything about Scotland or Kilmarnock and trusted my agent and that was the worst mistake of my life.

Samizadeh’s spell at Killie yielded just three minutes of league football – as a late sub against Hearts – alongside a few appearances in the cup competitions.

“I probably know not to go up to the north again,” he laughed. “I’m just joking.

“Football is so strange. I learned a lot, got depression, lost my confidence I didn’t know who I was anymore.

“And it’s still affecting me sometimes. But, again, all those mistakes have built me up and made who I am today.”

Off the field, Samizadeh’s life had already started to become complicated.

He and three others were accused of providing Iranian nationals with false identification and travel documents, with a view to helping them enter the UK illegally.

Though he strenuously denied the accusations and was never charged, early reports of the trial still circulate online.

“It has been a very hard time, I was coping with a lot things,” he said.

“Imagine all those dramas going on and me on the pitch trying to play and be normal?

“I was on bail signing two times a week at the police station, my passport was restrained, an investigation going on for four years from 2016.

“I had to stop playing football. I’m so disappointed in them (media outlets who carried reports of the trial). They just jumped into conclusion and never recorrected the news or removed it completely.

“I would love them to get in touch and get the story right. The case got completely closed and cannot be ever again reopened.

“I lost a lot of opportunities, not only in the UK but also abroad.”

Samizadeh has not given up on football, although he has worked for the last couple of years as a director of a Manchester-based estate agency, Royale Residential.

He turns out regularly for Surrey club Leatherhead, and at time of writing has scored eight goals for the Tanners, who are currently bottom of the Premier League table.

His CV lists a number of non-league sides where fresh starts have been made and abandoned but the striker hopes that 2022 can be the year he can enjoy his football properly once again.

“With all due respect to those clubs I was just trying to get back but it never worked because of circumstances I was in – and I played maybe one or two games for each,” he said of the five different non-league sides he has represented since playing in Scotland.

“Now it’s all finished, I’m back enjoying the game and scoring. I am working hard and trying to go back to where I was.

“I think my next step is to score as many goals as I can. I’m sure if someone thinks I’m good enough they will come for me.

“Again, football is just about opinions. For one manager you’re the best for the next not even good enough to be in the squad.

“My love for Bolton as a club and the fans will always be unique. It is home, and I have always said that.

“I’m glad they are doing good and that the manager has a long-term plan for the club.

“Of course I’d love to come back one day – I have some good friends still there Dennis Politic, Harry Brockbank amazing memories and January it’s getting close so anything can happen from now til then!”


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