- LATEST TRIUMPHS:
- 2017 Asian Championships - Silver
- Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - Silver
The Iranian football 5-a-side team took a step backwards at the 2017 Asian Championships as they lost to China in the final. But they are still a force to be reckoned with, especially after delivering an historical performance at the last Paralympic Games.
Behzad Zadaliasghari led the Iranian team that made history at Rio 2016 by claiming silver. Along the way his side eliminated gold-medal contenders Argentina and Turkey.
They defeated African champions Morocco 2-0 and secured scoreless draws against Brazil and European champions Turkey to finish second in Group A behind the hosts and qualify for the semi-finals.
In the match against Morocco, Zadaliasghari made the headlines after scoring an outstanding goal. He received the ball in his own half and dribbled past the entire African team before shooting past goalkeeper Samir Bara to score a Lionel Messi-like goal.
“International media started calling me the ‘Blind Messi’,” he said.
“In fact, not just the media but also Brazilian fans got into what the Iranian team was doing after that game. People started calling me by my last name while I was walking at the Olympic Village. It was great”.
In the semi-finals, Iran sprang a surprise and beat Argentina 2-1 on penalties. They lost to Brazil 1-0 in the gold-medal match.
“In London, we finished in sixth place, in Rio we won silver, and if we keep working the way we are doing it, we might fight for the gold medal once again at Tokyo 2020.”