May 27, 2024
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Tehran Times – ROTTERDAM, Iran national football team skipper Alireza Jahanbakhsh says that his people love football and the expectations are high in his country.

He trains with Feyenoord after he participated in the World Cup in Qatar, where Iran lost to England 6-2 and the U.S. 1-0 and defeated Wales 1-0.

“When I was seventeen, I played for one of the national youth teams for the first time. People started following me since then and want to know what I do, where I am and with whom.

“That has only become more extreme since I joined Iran national football team. There is a lot of pressure and there are sometimes high expectations. Football is a global sport and in Iran it is the national sport. The football fans are very fanatical,” he said in an interview with Feyenoord Magazine.

Jahanbakhsh joined NEC in 2013 from Iranian club Damash. He played 55 times and scored 17 goals for the Eredivisie side.

“It was a huge switch. Fortunately, in my first year we had about fifteen different nationalities in the team. Other boys, like me, had to get used to the language, but also to the tactics and the speed of the game,” he added.

After his period at NEC, Jahanbakhsh joined AZ, which resulted in a transfer to the English Premier League at Brighton & Hove Albion. He joined Feyenoord in 2021. His move to Europe and his perseverance has brought him a lot.

“Living in Europe has opened my eyes. I came into contact with other cultures and points of view and I learned a lot from that.

As a fully-fledged international, Jahanbakhsh can no longer go across the street in Iran without being recognized. “When I go back during a holiday, the news spreads quickly. People then ring my parents’ doorbell to ask if I want to take a picture with them. I won’t deny that but it is sometimes difficult,” Jahanbakhsh stated.

Jahanbakhsh understands that people like to see their idols.

“I also wanted to see my idols. Brazil’s Ronaldo and Mehdi Mahdavikia were my heroes. Mehdi is a celebrity in our country. Not only as a footballer, but also as a person. He always spends time with supporters. That’s how I wanted to be. That’s why I always look at it from the positive when someone wants something from me. This is a beautiful thing the fans love me. To be humble is my duty,” said the Iranian.