Tag: Mehrdad Pooladi

List of Iranian Players playing abroad (Legionnaires).

With a couple of marquee players of Team Melli changing clubs at the start of 2021/22 season, it seems like a good idea to check who is who and where are the Iranian footballer playing abroad make their living.

This season’s most prominent transfer was of Alireza Jahanbakhsh who was recruited by Feyenoord Rotterdam and mark his return to the Eredivisie. The other Alireza, Beiranvand moved from Belgium to Portugal where he joined Boavista in the first division to add to the remarkable number of Iranian players in Portugal.

One of the most surprising moves was that of Payam Niazmand, who left Esfahan to join Portimonense in Portugal who already have Ali Alipour in their squad.

The list includes some interesting names too like Bakhtiyar Rahmani who is now playing in Sweden for FF Dalkurd a club in the second division of Sweden SuperEttan. Also included is Steven Beitashour who plays for Colorado Rapids in MSL. The Iranian American who was picked by Carlos Queiroz before World Cup 2014 appeared briefly for Team Melli.  An honorary mention must also go to Mehrdadi Pooladi who is still playing football in the Second Division of Qatar Star League. Pooladi never returned to Iran after the AFC Asian Cup 2015 over a dispute of his military service.

This is by far the most complete list of Iranian players playing abroad. If you have any updates or names that we have omitted, please do send your suggestions to the Chief Editor for inclusion.

The list indicates that 20 players who are on the current selection lists of Team Melli are playing abroad. On the other hand, 11 players who have been former Team Melli players are playing abroad now.

Iranian Legionnaires

#PlayerLeagueClubCountryTeam Melli
Team Melli
Saman GhoddosPremier LeagueBrentfordEnglandYES
Ravi ShamsiNon League PremierNuneaton BoroughEngland
Pouriya AhmadiNon League Division OneGlossop North EndEngland
Amir AbedzadehSegunda DivisiónPonferradinaSpainYES
Daniel DavariRegionalligaRot-Weiss EssenGermanyYES
Fereydoon ZandiRegionalligaSt. Pauli IIGermanyYES
Ahmad JafariRegionalligaHombergGermany
Aram AbdelkarimRegionalligaStraelenGermany
Ebrahim FarahnakRegionalligaHSC HannoverGermany
Ali SandoghdarOberligaVfL OldenburgGermany
Maziar NamavizadehOberligaRöchling VölklingenGermany
Iman Saghi beRiaOberligaHastedtGermany
Alireza JahanbakhshEredivisieFeyenoordNetherlandsYES
Nabi HakimzadehHoofdklasseHBSNetherlands
Aria HashemiEerste KlasseBest VooruitNetherlands
Behzad AriayeeQueensland NPLMoreton Bay UnitedAustralia
Mehdi SharifiPremyer LiqaSumqay?tAzerbaijanYES
Khaled ShafieiPremier LeagueBashundhara KingsBangladesh
Milad MohammadiFirst Division AGentBelgiumYES
Ali GholizadehFirst Division ASporting CharleroiBelgiumYES
Kaveh RezaeiFirst Division AClub BruggeBelgiumYES
China PR
Morteza PouraliganjiCSLShenzhenChinaYES
Sadegh Moharrami1. HNLDinamo ZagrebCroatiaYES
Younes Delfi1. HNLHNK GoricaCroatiaYES
Mohsen Behzadpour3. HNLLu?koCroatia
Saeid EzatolahiSuperligaVejleDenmarkYES
Mohammad BarzegaraslLiga 3Didube 2014Georgia
Ehsan HajsafySuper League 1AEK AthensGreeceYES
Karim AnsarifardSuper League 1AEK AthensGreeceYES
Mohammadreza AzadiSuper League 1PanaitolikosGreece
Iman BasafaIndian Super LeagueBengaluru FCIndia
Milad ZandaIraqi LeagueErbilIraq
Mohammed MhamdianIraqi LeagueNaftIraq
Mehdi DaghaghelehIraqi LeagueNaft MaysanIraq
Ali PourDaraPremier LeagueKuwait SCKuwait
Sousha MakaniEliteserienMjøndalenNorway
Omid NazariPFLUnited CityPhilippinesYES
Alireza BeiranvandPrimeira LigaBoavistaPortugalYES
Jafar SalmaniPrimeira LigaPortimonensePortugalYES
Payam NiazmandPrimeira LigaPortimonensePortugalYES
Mehdi TaremiPrimeira LigaPortoPortugalYES
Ali AlipourPrimeira LigaMarítimoPortugalYES
Taha ZareeiCampeonato (4th division)VianensePortugal
Ramin RezaeianQatar Stars LeagueAl DuhailQatarYES
Mehrdad MohammadiQatar Stars LeagueAl ArabiQatarYES
Pejman MontazeriQatar Stars LeagueAl KharitiyathQatarYES
Ali KarimiQatar Stars LeagueQatar SCQatarYES
Shojaa KhalilzadehQatar Stars LeagueAl RayyanQatarYES
Mehrdad PooladiSecond DivisionMuaitherQatarYES
Alan Hossein KarimiSecond DivisionLusail CityQatar
Sardar AzmounPremier LeagueZenitRussiaYES
Pedram ArdalanyFootball LeagueCumbernauld ColtsScotland
Iman SalimiSuper LigaSere?Slovakia
Bakhtiyar RahmaniEttanDalkurdSwedenYES
Shaho Maroufi1. Liga PromotionStade NyonnaisSwitzerland
Hamed BakhtiariThai League 1SuphanburiThailand
Vafa HakhamaneshiThai League 1RatchaburiThailand
Mahan Rahmani NoubariThai League 2Nong Bua PitchayaThailand
Mohammad NaderiSüper LigAltay Spor KulübüTurkey
Majid HosseiniSüper LigKayserisporTurkeyYES
Ebrahim AabednezhadBölgesel Amator ligSerinhisarsporTurkey
Davoud Ezat?taghBölgesel Amator ligBiga AdasporTurkey
Allahyar SayadmaneshPremier LeagueZoryaUkraineYES
Shahab ZahediPremier LeagueZoryaUkraine
Siavash HaghnazariPersha LigaVolynUkraine
Ahmad NoorollahiADNOC LeaugeShabab Al-AhliUAEYES
Mehdi GhaediADNOC LeaugeShabab Al-AhliUAEYES
Steven BeitashourMLSColorado RapidsUSAYES
Arshia AghababazadehUSL ChampionshipAustin BoldUSA
Ramak Nikan SafiNPSLJacksonville Armada IIUSA

Notes from the Asian Cup 2019 – First round.


The Asian Cup which is held in UAE, has brought a lot of interest from sport community across Asia and from other parts of the world. The media is buzzing and reporters from far places have gathered to cover this major event. The Japanese, by far, are the biggest group.

Iranian media is present as always, but I cannot help notice the smaller numbers, relatively speaking, compared to the previous tournaments. The economic situation in Iran and the exchange rate of the Riyal to dollar has a massive effect on this shortage. It is three times more expensive for the Iranians to travel abroad and that is if they are lucky to get the hard currency.  Iranian football federation FFIRI, which has always subsided and supported a number of journalists to cover major Asian completions and especially the Asian Cups, has found itself in dire straits this year. Simply put, there are not enough funds to support larger number of media personnel.


The first match against Yemen was disappointing in the number of Iranian fans. Although, the majority of the 5300 fans in Al Jazeera Club Stadium were Team Melli fans, it was less than expected in a country that has a large number of Iranian expatriates.  But, even with those small number, the Team Melli fans like always, were colorful, vociferous and  cheering the team all the way to the end.

With that famous chants of “Iran Chikaresh Mikoone…Soorakh Soorakhas Mikone” reverberating through the stands, it gave the stadium a fantastic atmosphere which many foreign journalist who have never attended Iran matches before, a sense of appreciation and admiration. “You should experience 100,000 fans do that in Azadi…Now, that is will surely energize your adrenaline.“  I told some of them.

The fans played its expected role in supporting the players and for that Team Melli players showed them respect and went toward both sections to thank the fans.


Carlos Queiroz seems to be calm and collected person during interviews and press conferences. It does not reflect his character on the field and during training with the players. Whatever pros and cons he has , at the end of the day and for what it is worth, he is the perfect coach for Team Melli and I hope his legacy stays in Iran for a long time.

Iranians by nature are not a much disciplined nation in the style of Japanese and Europeans.  That reflects on players naturally. In football, lack of discipline is a recipe for disaster.   Years after years of watching Iranian football, I have detected this lack of discipline in and out of the field by even the most famous and popular players. In fact, the most popular they were and more indiscipline. There is one shining exception in Ali Daei.  Carlos Queiroz has changed all that. He showed and continues showing his players and staff f the meaning of discipline and respect. For that alone, this man deserves accolades and one hopes his legacy in Team Melli stays for a long time to come.


But Queiroz has this other side of his character , the combative !

After the match with Yemen, I was not alone in thinking that there were some wild tackles flying from Iranian players on the opposition. Really uncalled for in a game against weak opposition like Yemen where risks of yellow or even worst red card is present. Many Foreign and Iranian journalist thought that this was not necessarily, while some put it to player’s nerves in the first match.

In the post press conference, however, Queiroz was in total denial mentioning an incident that Azmoun pushed a Yemeni player to the ground. Queiroz defended his star player by saying that the Yemeni player pushed first!!! Mr. Queiroz….this is NOT a school yard where a boy pushes a boy to the ground and beats him up because that boy shoved first. A simple act like that push by Azmoun and he could have ended up in the shower because of violent conduct, subsequently suffering through a day off in the next match.

Arab teams are notoriously famous for provocation and Queiroz after so many years in this area should know much better than excuse his players for retaliation!  Has he already forgotten what happened to Mehrdad Pooladi in Australia against Iraq???

End of the road for Jalal Hosseini

The Persepolis central defender, a veteran of 108 games for Team Melli and 8 goals will be appearing for the last time against Syria.

Seyyed Jalal Hosseini , who has been a fixed player for his club Persepolis winning the league title last season, has not featured in Carlos Queiroz’s team this year although he was included in the squads for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

At 35 , Jalal Hosseini is obviously not as versatile and quick as he used to be years back. He has formed a strong partnership with Pejman Montazeri in Team Melli for the last few years , but his loss of pace , his temperemnt and certain lack of self-control has reduced his chances of appearing for Team Melli and relegated in the pecking order for defenders by Queiroz.

In essence, Carlos Queiroz is a great believer in youth energy and for the six years he has been at the helm of Team Melli , the Portuguese coach has introduced many new players while he easily dispensed with the service of the most senior member of Team Melli without affecting the overall performances or result of the team. In Hosseini’s case, the performance of his club teammate Mohammad Ansari was quite assuring and hence he seems to be the perfect replacement for the aging Hosseini.

Like Mehdi Rahmati, Hadi Aghili, Andranik Teymourian, Khosrow Heydari, Mohammadreza Khalatbari, Mehrdad Pooladi , AmirHossein Sadeghi, Mojtaba Jabbari , Gholamreza Rezaei , Mohammad Nouri, and Mohammad Nosrati before him, the Persepolis defender is bidding farewell after a fine 10 years career with Team Melli which included participation in the FIFA World Cup 2014 and three AFC Asian Cups 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Ben Williams is to retire.

IMAGINE spending more than two decades at the very top of your field, and then when you retire, witnessing widespread celebration you were finally quitting.

That’s life as a football referee and the reality veteran Australian whistleblower Ben Williams faced today after announcing Tuesday night’s International Champions Cup match between Juventus and Tottenham at the MCG would be his last match in Australia.

“After 22 years on the national panels and 12 years as a FIFA referee it feels like the right time to hang up the whistle,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to spending time with my increased family and giving back to them for all the love and support they afforded me throughout my career.”

The referee who cruelly and unfairly red carded Mehrdad Pooladi in the quarter-final match against Iraq , is perhaps the most hated of all the referees by Iranian fans throughout the history.  Not Only this dismissal was unjust to the player, it meant that the team had to play the rest of the match and extra time with one player short. Williams fell a victim of Iraqi goalkeeper play acting and was too naive at the scene. No Iranian will be missing this referee for sure. Good riddance is quite appropriate for a man that has gave a whole nation a hardship.

It’s some resume, but do you think it meant anything to A-League followers on Twitter? Of course not.

Australian betting company sportsbet.com.au — who are always attempting to find the lighter side of moments like this — were particularly savage.

One of their tweets — which included a gif of fans applauding the news — even prompted former ASADA boss Richard Ings to respond: “Why are people so unkind?”

But the betting gurus weren’t the only ones taking shots. This is how Twitter reacted.


Is Ben Williams guide dog also retiring or will he be given to one of the other refs

Mehrdad Pooladi seeking asylum in UK.

The former Team Melli and Persepolis player Mehrdad Pooladi is rumored to be seeking asylum in Britain following his problem with the authorities in Iran as the result of Military Service.

Pooladi who was Team Melli’s best player in FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, last played for Team Melli in the 2015 Asian Cup Australia. His expulsion in the quarter final match against Iraq after receiving the 2nd yellow card meant Team Melli playing the whole of the second half and extra time with one player short.

At the time, Pooladi was playing in Qatar Star League with Al Shahaniya and returned their following the elimination of Team Melli never to return back to his homeland.

The reclusive ex-Mes Kerman and Persepolis defender troubles began when he was named in controversial list of football players who dodged military service by presenting fake documents with the intention to fraud. The compulsory 2 years military service is required for all able bodied young Iranians after graduation from school.  Almost all the players named on that list, accepted the consequences of their misconduct and their subsequent punishments, which included servicing the full 2 years military service. Pooladi was the only one who insisted on his innocence. He was adamant that he followed the procedures in getting release from military service without publicizing the details.


Pooladi who has always been media shy and did not give many interviews was said to promise the authorities to prove that his discharge was legitimate on his return to Iran following the AFC Asian Cup 2015.

Pooladi never returned back to Iran and the reason was a concerted media slander campaign where he was called a “fugitive” , “deserter” and even a “traitor”. It is believed that Pooladi , on hearing or reading those comments in government run media including respected news agency such as ISNA , thought he was fighting a losing battle. Dejected and angry by these accusations, he decided not to return fearing reprisal and imprisonment by the authorities.

A few insiders point fingers at unnamed Persepolis club officials who hatched this campaign against him as a revenge for him abandoning the club in 2014 when he was most needed in a struggling team. These claims are unsubstantiated, however.

Mehrdad Pooladi was one of Carlos Queiroz’s most trusted players. It seemed that the Team Melli head coach was swearing by him to the extent that he named him in a squad once while the left back was on crutches recovering from injury!

Controversial Australian referee makes the headline again!

Team Melli fans will hardly forget one referee who cost Iran dearly one year ago in the Asian Cup 2015. It was that notorious Ben Williams who sent off  Mehrdad POOLADI in the quarter-final game against Iraq for the lightest of contacts with the Iraqi keeper. The second yellow card deprived Team Melli from one player for the whole of the 2nd half. Carlos Queiroz , who nearly blew his top on that decision, had to be restrained during the half time by his player to prevent him confronting the Australian referee.  It was not the only mistake of this Australian referee who has been a subject of many complaints in the last few years mainly during the AFC Champions League from the Saudi and Emirates club for his controversial refereeing and decisions. 

Williams is making the headlines again, for the wrong reason, this time in the local Australian league as clear from the following report.

A-League referee Ben Williams made a televised apology for making a mistake in two of three contentious first-half decisions that overshadowed Western Sydney’s goalless stalemate with Adelaide United. Williams stole the spotlight for all the wrong reasons at Pirtek Stadium on Friday night, leaving both sides feeling aggrieved over a disallowed goal and two clear penalty appeals.

But for all the attacking football, the focus was again on controversy. First, Wanderers striker Federico Piovaccari was disallowed an opening goal after a shoulder-to-shoulder tussle with Dylan McGowan. The pair had each other by the shirts as they hurtled downfield but the stocky Italian was stronger, driving the ball past United custodian Eugene Galekovic, who didn’t even bother to dive.

If that decision was 50-50, what came moments later was clear-cut. Michael Marrone charged into the box and was fouled by Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley, only for Williams to ignore it. Then, right on the tick of halftime, McGowan appeared to bring down Mark Bridge in another appeal gone wanting.

After the match, Williams admitted that after watching video replays he realised he’d gotten it wrong on the latter two counts. “Having seen the contact now (from Topor-Stanley on Marrone), I think that’s a penalty. So my apologies there,” he told Fox Sports. “In regards to the other one with the Mark Bridge challenge … that’s probably a penalty also. Of course, we never like to make errors, but this is the way it goes.”

“From my position that’s what I saw on the day.”

It remains to be seen whether AFC will give this referee more matches in the upcoming Champions league season starting next February.

Team Melli unable to use players under Military Service.

The Armed Forces of Islamic Republic of Iran has written to the concerned departments declaring that all those players who have found to be guilty of fraud by the courts for holding fake military release certificates , will not be allowed to join Team Melli or Omid teams. The ban is valid until the completion of their service.

Team Melli will be playing against Guam at home then India away. Carlos Queiroz will be unable to select those players although in real terms , none are fixed players in the team. The players are Arash Afshin , Bakhtiyar Rahmani , Shoja’a Khalilzadeh , Hossein Mahini and Soroush Rafei. In addition , Mehrdad Pooladi who is currently out of the country , is also put on the black list and cannot play for Team Melli.

The communique from the armed forces did not specifically mention those other  players who have not cheated and are currently serving their mandatory military service as required by the law. Such players are normally banned from leaving the country while serving but dispensation has been issued before on request from the FFIRI and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

 Team Melli will start a short training camp next Thursday in Azadi Sports Complex in preparation for the match on 3rd September against Guam in Azadi and on the 8th in Mumbai against India.


Team Melli is further depleted !

A depleted Team Melli will be flying to Tashkent on Tuesday 11:00 am missing 7 players. The latest additions,  is one of the most experienced players, Seyed Jalal Hosseini and Foolad young starlet , Soroush Rafei. The pair is facing administration issues preventing them from leaving Iran.

As reported earlier in teammelli.com , Hosseini is facing tax evasion charges due to the non-payment of taxes while he was playing with Persepolis. Hosseini learned of his dilemma when he returned to Iran after the end of the QSL season where he was playing with Al Ahli in Qatar.  Hosseini is adamant that according to his contract , Persepolis was supposed to pay for his income taxes , something they never did.

Soroush Rafei is faced with the military service which in Iran means the person is not allowed to leave the country until the completion of his duty. However, there are exemptions based on admissible evidences. Queiroz personally took Rafei’s issue to task but it appears that his efforts were fruitless.

Although the decision on both are not final with another 30 odd hours remaining to the flight , it is hardly unlikely that the matter will be resolved. Hosseini’s absence will be a real blow to Team Melli already missing Amir Hossein Sadeghi in the central defense and Mehrdad Pooladi. Montazeri will most probably be paired with young Pouraliganji in the central defense while Ghafoori , Heydari or Beikzadeh will be occupying the defensive flanks.

The list of the absentees on the trip to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is as follows:

  1. Ashkan Dejagah (Injury)
  2. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (injury)
  3. Ghassim Haddadifar (Fatigue)
  4. Jalal Hosseini (Taxation)
  5. Karim Ansarifard (Form)
  6. Mehrdad Pooladi (Military Service)
  7. Soroush Rafei (Military Service)

Mehrdad Pooladi is not coming back!

Much has been said about Team Melli’s left back who was Iran’s best player in the FIFA World Cup 2014. Mehrdad Pooladi was accused by the authorities along with a large number of other footballers of submitting fake documents in order to get exemption from Military Service. The inspection which was carried out in 2014 also named several other Team Melli players like Hossein Mahini and Bakhtiar Rahmani in the list of unlawful certification. Consequently, these players must carry out the mandatory 2 years military service while they are only allowed to play football is limited number of military affiliated clubs like Malavan and Tractorsazi.

Unlike the other players, Pooladi was pursuing his career in Qatar. He was under professional contract for Al Shahaniya team in the QSL. After concerted efforts by the football federation and with support of the Ministry of Youth & Sports , Pooladi was given a special dispensation and allowed to play for Team Melli for the duration of the AFC Asian Cup, on the condition that he completes the compulsory Military Service as soon as football season ends.

 Pooladi played in the Asian Cup and like the World Cup; he was one of the excellent players of the team until that dreaded moment against Iraq. Pooladi managed to get himself red carded in the quarter final match against Iraq to leave his team a man short. The aftermath of the dismissal varied with most fans blaming Australian referee for what seemed to be a harsh and hasty decision. The referee was put under pressure to produce a second yellow card by a number of Iraqi players surrounding him for what seemed to be an innocuous touch between Pooladi and Iraqi goalkeeper. Jalal Hassan Hachim, in goal for Iraq ,  truly dramatized the incident making a real scene and faking injury and pain. Benjamin Williams, under the influence of the Iraqi players, pulled the 2nd yellow for Pooladi and subsequently the red leaving Team Melli to play the full second half and the two extra times and penalties with a man short.

iran-v-iraq penalty takers

Others blamed Pooladi for being sloppy and crude perhaps even cocky. Both of the two cards that he received could have been avoided by a disciplined professional player.  In any case, it was the end the tournament for Pooladi and Team Melli as the penalty kicks were not too kind for Queiroz’s men.

After the Asian Cup Pooladi did not act on his case with the military service commission and did not seek any references for his future. When Queiroz was preparing the team for the European tour, Pooladi was one of his main players on the list, but he was informed that the left back cannot feature for Team Melli unless he sorts out his military service.

Pooladi was procrastinating and seemed to have lost interest in the whole case. He was negatively affected by the bad mouthing he received from some fans while the media was not exactly too kind to him either.  One major sport daily headline read “The deserter is back” when Pooladi was called for duty for the AFC Asian Cup. Not exactly complimentary words for a player who was preparing to represent his country and play for its honor and pride.

Somewhere along the line, Pooladi has made his decision. Calls from the football federation officials asking him about his status with the Military Service and his availability for Team Melli seemed to be answered vaguely or put on hold.

  Pooladi must have made his mind up not to return to Iran. The season ended disappointingly for the ex-Persepolis player. Along with Masoud Shojaei , the Iranian couple could not manage to help Al Shahaniya avoid relegation. His future with his relegated club remains uncertain and so are his days with Team Melli.


It is a shame for Team Melli to lose such a quality player. Carlos Queiroz had a lot of faith in the left back and was his strongest supporter. On the field, Pooladi is robust, consistent and skillful defender. Off the field, he had his fair share of troubles with authority, displaying the same petulant attitude of many talented Iranian footballers.

Pooladi and Shojaei relegated in QSL.

Al Shahaniya club lost its final match in the Qatar Star League QSL against Al Ahli and were relegated to the second division. Al Shahaniya which has two Team Melli players Mehrdad Pooladi and Masoud Shojaei in their squad , were just promoted last season. The two Iranian players started with the team from the beginning of the season , but their efforts were fruitless and could not help keep the newly promoted team in top flight for more than one season.

Al Shahaniya finished in 13th position with 20 points 7 points ahead of the bottom team Al Shamal which is also relegated along with Al Shahaniya.

Al Ahli which is coached by the ex-Sepahan coach Zlatko Kranjcar and has Jalal Hosseini and Mojtaba Jabbari playing for them finished the season at 5th place. Hosseini and played Pooladi played the full match for their respective teams , while Masoud Shojaei was introduced as a substitute from the second half. Jabbari is currently injured.

Al Wakrah which has Reza Ghoochanejad in their squad , just missed on relegation by beating Al Gharafa 2-1 in the final round of the QSL a result that ensured their survival. Al Wakrah finished with 23 point at 12 place just above the relegated Al Shahaniya. Ghoochanejad made a cameo appearance for Al Wakra when he replaced Ahmad Koheyl Substituted in the final 5 minutes of the game.

QSL title was won by Lekhwiya for the fourth time in their history.