Shoja; brave defender of Iran natl. football team

TEHRAN, Oct. 27 (MNA) – As his first name is self-explanatory, the bravery of Shoja (meaning brave in Persian) on the football pitch is admirable; the defender who will be a firewall for Iran national football team in World Cup 2022.

Born on May 14, 1989, Shojae Khalilzadeh plays as a center-back for Qatar Stars League club Al Ahli.

He started his football in Kerman where he moved to two clubs, first joining Mes Rafsanjan in 2008 and then signing with Mes Kerman in 2010.

In late June 2013, Khalilzadeh was presented as a player of Isfahani club Sepahan on a four-year contract.

Khalilzadeh was loaned to Tractor to complete his mandatory military service during 2015-2016.

Shoja; brave defender of Iran nat’l football team

On 6 May 2017, Khalilzadeh join the Persian Gulf Pro League champions Persepolis on a two-year contract under Croatian coach Branko Ivanković.

Between 2017 and 2020, Shoja Khalilzadeh became somewhat of a cult hero at Persepolis, with his no-nonsense performances at the back and ability to score crucial goals at the other end endearing him to the red half of Tehran. It was the period in which the Iranian giants truly established themselves in the AFC Champions League according to the-afc.com.

On 25 October 2020, Al-Rayyan announced on the last day of the summer transfer window the signing of Khalilzadeh on a two-year contract.

Shoja; brave defender of Iran nat’l football team

Khalilzadeh was invited to Iran's national team in 2012 by Carlos Queiroz. He made his debut for Team Melli in a 6–1 victory against Tajikistan national team.

With 476 successful passes, 78 possession won and 2 goals scored, he was among the best defenders on the 2020 AFC Champions League Team.

Asian Football Confederation has termed him “Solid and reliable at the back”.

Qatar Stars League has described him as “a defender with the qualities of an attacker”.

Shoja; brave defender of Iran nat’l football team

He is highly regarded by fans and coaches for his on-the-pitch bravery.

Croatian coach Branko Ivanković, who coached Persepolis FC from April 2015 to mid-2019, once told the player that his first name was self-explanatory, terming him “brave”.

After nearly four million votes, the best goal of the 2019 AFC Champions League has been decided with Shojae Khalilzadeh's incredible scissor kick for Persepolis against Al Ahli named the winning effort following the public poll on the-AFC.com.

Ten fantastic goals were nominated that spanned the Continent from Uzbekistan to Urawa, but it was Persepolis' defender Khalilzadeh whose amazing acrobatics captured the attention and favor of Asia's football fans.

The Iranian had previously won Goal of the Week for Matchday Three and Goal of the Group Stage, and so completes his hat-trick with the overall best goal of the 2019 AFC Champions League.

Shoja Khalilzadeh's effort for Persepolis FC against UAE's Sharjah has been voted as the AFC Champions League 2020 Goal of the West.

Shoja; brave defender of Iran nat’l football team

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.

Reported by Amin Mohammadzadegan Khoyi

News Code 192827

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