The attribute of this fine player in technical sense and his sportsmanship was discovered quite late in footballing term. However, he imposed himself quite quickly as a player with finesse, personality, skills and exceptional work rate.
As a member of the minority group, his fast progress to popularity was remarkable. An Armenian who managed to grab the attention and admiration of friends and foes at the same time. Karo, whose real first name is Aziz, was playing football for sometime before he was the center of attention in 1970 when his club “Taj” won the Asian club championship for the first time. He was a brilliant dynamo and was one of the players that made a difference in Taj. He also excelled in the league that year.
His childhood was uneventful and like everyone at his age group he played football in school and the streets. Karo was a third child in a large family of 8. He was a shy child and grew up as a modest person and was known as a kind and caring person amongst his community. He joined his first team when he was only 13 years old. The team was called “Gowhar” and Karo played his first competitive match with this team under the guidance of Areshavi Serkisian.
The matches he played were quite competitive at his level, not to say quite physical as well. His parents were not amused when Karo used to come home after matches with bruises all over his body. They did not approve much of his hobby and discouraged him from continuing playing football and instead, they wanted him to concentrate on school and studies. However, those reprimands from his parents did not dilute his passion for football and the love for the game.
His first moment of success came, when Ganik Mehrabian spotted Karo playing in a local match. Mehrabian was the coach of Ararat, the biggest and the most popular Armenian club in Iran. Karo’s performance attracted Mehrabian, and when a couple of years later, Gowhar won the championship of the local tournament in Amjadiah stadium , Ararat recruited him along with a few other of his teammates.
This was 1342 and coincidently it was the year that Ararat gained promotion to the First Division of Tehran league for the first time in their history.
Karo was not an immediate first choice player for Ararat, and he had to wait quite a few months before he was given a n opportunity to play in the league. Due to his built, and physique, Karo was used as a left back and his debut in Shahbaz stadium was against the might Oghab Club of Tehran. It was an impressive debut as Ararat defeat the powerful Oghab 3-2, which remains as one of the sweet moments of Karo’s career.
Although his debut was impressive, and was towards the end of the season, Karo was not used as a regular starter during the beginning of next season 1342-43. The next season saw a good progress in his tactical ability in addition to his physical, which lead the coach to use him as a regular starter more often and soon he became an important player for the team. Ararat finished in eighth position amongst the 14 teams in the league, which was a good achievement for the Armenian club and Karo as well.
During that season, Karo used to go forward much more than usual to help the forwards and midfield players. That attribute resulted in a change of position for the next season as he was pushed forward in a midfield role instead of left half.
He played for three years in Ararat before finally he was selected for Tehran XI representative team and subsequently selected to represent Iran at youth level which was scheduled to play against Dynamo Bucharest of Romania in a friendly match. Iran Youth Team beat Dynamo Bucharest 5-0, which a remarkable result for the team and one that Karo will always remember. Karo played another game for Iran at youth level against and Iraqi team, Al Janoob, which Iran won 3-1. His performance in these games eventually attracted the attention of Iran National Team selectors. In 1346 he was selected for TEAM MELLI for the first time.
Iran was participating in the 2nd RCD Cup in Dacca (Formerly East Pakistan) to face Turkey and Pakistan. Although Karo was part of the 18players squad, he did not play in either of the two matches a loss 0-1 against Turkey and 1-0 victory against Pakistan.
His progress with Ararat attracted the interest of many Tehrani clubs, and eventually “Taj” succeeds in signing him from Ararat in 1347.
Haqvardian made his debut for his new club “Taj” during the mini-tournament that the federation has set-up to select a representative for the Asian Club Championship in 1969. His first appearance was ironically against the mighty Oghab and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. He was one of the best players of the day despite being a new member of the team.
1n 1968 Karo Haqvardian was selected for Iran’s squad preparing for the Asian Championship in Tehran. Iran won the Asian title for the first time but Karo did not play any of the games. However, in the same season he won the League cup with his club “Taj” and hence his team was nominated to represent Iran in the Asian Club championship.
In 1970, Taj hosted the Asian Club championship and although started with two easy wins with a margin of 3-0 in each match followed by a 2-0 victory against ….. in the semi-final, their opponents were the might Hapoel Tel-Aviv the champions of Israel.
Hapoel lead the match 1-0 against Taj, and Karo was the inspiration behind his team’s come back although missing a few key players. His runs and leadership in the midfield was eventually rewarded a by a historical victory 2-1 against a stubborn and a formidable opponent. After the Asian Nations Championship, Karo won a second major accolade, but the difference was that in this tournament he was a prominent and a key player for his team.
His performance in the Asian club championship was again recognized by National team selectors and he was still eligible to play with the youth team and hence his selection for the squad which was preparing for the Youth tournament in Manila.
His dream of a hat trick of championship, this time at youth level was thwarted by the defeat against South Korea in the Quarter Finals match, although he played in all the four matches and played quite well.
His next selection for Team Melli was during the 4th RCD tournament, and finally he made his full debut for the national team during the match against Pakistan. And what a dream debut for the young Armenian that was as his team Iran routed Pakistan by 7-0 and Karo was on the score sheet ion his debut. His second game was against Turkey, which Iran drew 1-1 and were declared the RCD champions for the 2nd time in the history of this tournament.
In 1348-49 season, Karo and his club “Taj” were runner-up in Tehran league, after the final match loss against the eventual champions Paykan 0-2. Karo was once a gain a star player of his team despite the defeat.
A year later, “Taj” won the Tehran Club Championship, and hence was declared as representative of the country in the upcoming Asian Club championship in Bangkok, Thailand. In this tournament Karo was injured and he missed two matches, his club clinched 3rd position after the loss in the semi-finals.
Other achievements for Karo were the winning of two championships in Mills Tournament in India. Another of Karo sporting interest beside football was Track and fields. He won two gold medals two years running during the Armenian games in 400meters and 800meters.
Karo went on to played … times for the National team. He always remembers and appreciates his coaches beginning from Ganik Mehrabian Ararat to Hussain Fekri in the national team and his Taj club coaches Mohammed Bayati, Ali Danaei-Fard and finally Rykov as the inspiration behind his success.
Gold Medal Winner Asian Games 1974