Shirzadegan was the first Iranian to play overseas after signing a contract with the Baltimore Kickers in the sixties.
In his first season at Shahin senior team, Shirzadegan won the Tehran league in 1959. In December of the same year, when he was short of 19 years old he played in an Asian Cup qualifying tournament in India where the matches were played in 80 minutes because of the high humidity. Team Melli failed to qualify. He helped Shahin win Tehran league again in 1962.
It was in the season of 1963 when he was given the title of “Golden Foot Shiri” by his fans. Shirzadegan was reknown for his legendary ability to score goals in the penalty area from deadball situations. In June he scored the winning goal at the final game between Shahin and Shahrbani. Shiri’s golden days came in the fall of that year when Iran was grouped with Iraq, Pakistan and India in the Tokyo 1964 Olympic qualifying tournament.
Shirzadegan was the undisputed star of Team Melli which qualified for the Olympics for the first time. He was the top scorer with six goals. One month after Iran qualified, the Physical Education Sport Organization sacked Shirzadegan and five other players from the national team because they had complained about Mohammad Ranjbar’s absence in the team’s lineup.
Iran played in the Tokyo Olympics Football competetion without its stars and subsequently lost all matches.
Shirzadegan then left for the USA and when the suspension was reduced to six months, he returned back to Iran to be greeted by 10,000 fans at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.
Shirzadegan was in the squad for the Bangkok Asian Games in 1966 , where Iran won the silver medal and that was to be his last major participation with Team Melli.
A year later Shahin club was disbanded and Shirzadegan again flew to the United States where he became the first Iranian player to play in the American league. He played for the Balitimore Kickers, a team owned by Germans li...[Read more]