Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

TEHRAN, Sep. 11 (MNA) – Dubbed as the successor of Ali Daei – the second top scorer in the world – Iranian footballer Karim Ansarifard is known as the Marco Polo owing to playing in 10 clubs over the past decade.

Ansarifard has changed several clubs after he left Saipa to Persepolis in season 2012/13. He joined, Tractorsazi, Osasuna, Persepolis, Panionios, Olympiakos, Nottingham Forest, Al Saliya, and Season AEK Athens, and in 2022 Cypriot First Division club Omonia.

However, Ansarifard's Marco Polo style did not prevent him from scoring at the clubs and different leagues.

Karim Ansarifard born on April 3, 1990, is an Iranian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Omonia and the Iran national team.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to Ali Daei (the coach who scouted him) and he has been the successor of Ali Daei – the second top scorer in the world following Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ansarifard was invited to the Iran U17 national team in 2005. In the 2006 AFC U-17 Championship, he wore number 14 and was a benchwarmer.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

Ansarifard made his debut for the senior Iran national team in a match against Iceland in November 2009 under Afshin Ghotbi and scored his first international goal and the only goal of the game. He was given the number 10 previously worn by Ali Daei and scored on 15 January 2011 his third international goal against North Korea, so Ansarifard became Iran's youngest ever goalscorer in the AFC Asian Cup.

The player is a product of the Saipa club youth system. In the 2007 season, the coach, Ali Daei gave Karim Ansarifard the opportunity and promoted him to the first team from the reserves and the young starlet answered the coach with some eye-catching performances.

On 17 June 2012, he signed a three-year contract with Persepolis. He was given the number 9 shirt.

After Persepolis listed him out of the squad, he decided to play another season in Iran and joined Tractor. He signed a one-year contract with the option of a transfer to the European leagues in the case of bids.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

On 29 August 2014, Ansarifard signed a two-year deal with Segunda División's CA Osasuna. He made his league debut on 4 October 2014.

In the summer of 2015, Ansarifard signed with Panionios in Superleague Greece. His solo goal in April 2016 during matchday 28 in a victory against PAOK earned him the goal of the week honors.

On 13 January 2017, Ansarifard signed a 3.5-year contract with Greek giants Olympiacos for a transfer fee of €400,000, Panionios held a 10% sell-on clause. He was assigned the number 17.

On 3 November 2018, it was announced that Ansarifard had signed for Nottingham Forest in the Sky Bet Championship after delays obtaining a work permit. The Iranian international penned a one-and-a-half-year contract at the City Ground.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

On 12 July 2019, Ansarifard made the move to Al-Sailiya in the Qatar Stars League.

On 25 August 2020, Ansarifard signed a three-year contract with Greek Super League club AEK Athens.

On 30 August 2022, Ansarifard joined Cypriot First Division club Omonia on a two-year contract, with the option of an additional year.

On 1 June 2014, he was called into Iran's 2014 FIFA World Cup squad by Carlos Queiroz. He played his first World Cup match against Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was called into Iran's 2015 AFC Asian Cup squad on 30 December 2014 by Carlos Queiroz.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

The Serbian head coach of AEK Athens, Vladan Milovic, who has a history of working with Ansarifard in AEK and Panionios, and has also coached the Cypriot Omonia team for a period, reacted to the transfer of the Iranian striker to Omonia and considered it a very positive event. Milovic said, “Karim is a footballer who is a team player and easily scores goals. He works for the team and is not one of those central strikers who only sees himself in the field."

He added, “I worked with Ansarifard both in Panionios and AEK and we had good working relations. He is one of the best strikers I have coached.”

Praising Ansarifard he stated, “He is a footballer with high experience and a lot of experience in big teams. Omonia was a very good choice. Karim will help a lot. He is an experienced footballer in his prime. With Karim on the field, the coach can play with all systems. He is a very smart kid.”

In the end, Milovic said, “Karim is a complete professional player. He is at the service of the team and always gives his life for the team both in training and in the game.”

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

Ansarifard will represent Iran in the FIFA World Cup for the third time. The 32-year-old forward was a member of Iran's national football team in the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups.

“I’m very worried because I see so many fans and experts show increased satisfaction for our group. They must understand how tough our mission is and there is no guarantee of a spot in the next round,” Ansarifard posted on his Instagram account.

“As a member of Iran football, who has experienced the FIFA World Cup twice, I have to say so many people do not take the World Cup seriously. We are scheduled to play England on an opening day. They are one of the favorites to win the title, the nation that invented football. We are not alike at all,” he added.

“Wishes won’t wash dishes. We have to fight until death for our reputation. The National Team needs a good warm-up and good training camp ahead of the competition. I ask all the fans and my teammates to take the World Cup seriously and don’t let the officials forget their duties for supporting the team,” Ansarifard concluded.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

"World Soccer" Magazine selected Ansarifard as one of the best young talents in the world alongside Javier Hernández and Jack Wilshere.

In January 2012, FIFA.com selected him as one of the players to watch 2012.

Goal.com also chose him as one of the hottest 100 young football players in the world. 

Also in 2012, FIFA ranked him as the 48th best goal scorer in the world and second best in Asia.

In May 2018, he was named in Iran's preliminary squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo in 2022 Qatar World Cup

The FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December 2022.

The ‘Persian Leopards’ in Group B of the tournament will face England, the US, and Wales.

Iran football team became the 14th team to book their place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Moreover, the ‘Persian Leopards’ became the first Asian team to book their place in a major competition.

Iran, No. 21 in the current FIFA world rankings, will kick off the World Cup campaign in Qatar against fifth-ranked England on November 21.

"Iran in the World Cup is always a big story", revealed the Middle East and North African football journalist Uri Levy. "They had a good qualifying campaign. Under Dragan Skocic, they showed that they have the quality. It is the talent upfront that is making the difference for them. Bayer Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmoun and Porto’s Mehdi Taremi are prominent names in the squad.”

Reported by Amin Mohammadzadegan Khoyi

News Code 191260

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