Esteghlal F.C.

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باشگاه فوتبال استقلال تهران
Esteghlal FC.svg
Full name Esteghlal Tehran Football Club
Nickname(s) (The Blues)
(Crown)
Founded 26 September 1945; 68 years ago (1945-09-26)
(as Docharkheh Savaran)
Ground Azadi Stadium
Tehran, Iran
Ground Capacity 91,623
Chairman Bahram Afsharzadeh
Head Coach Amir Ghalenoei
League Iran Pro League
2013–14 Iran Pro League, 5th
Website Club home page
Current season

Esteghlal Tehran Football Club (باشگاه فوتبال استقلال تهران, meaning independence in Persian) known before the Iranian Revolution as Taj Tehran Football Club (باشگاه فوتبال تاج تهران, meaning Crown in Persian) is an Iranian professional Football Club based in Tehran that plays in The Iran Pro League. Founded in 1945 initially as Docharkhe savaran (دوچرخه سواران) meaning 'The Cyclists' in Persian and later in 1949, the name of the club was first changed to Taj (تاج), that means 'Crown' in Persian; a name that was quickly transformed into a football powerhouse in Iranian soccer competitions. The name of the club was finally modified into Esteghlal (Persian: استقلال‎) that is the current name of the club, meaning 'Independence', subsequent to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In 1970, under the management of Zdravko Rajkov, Esteghlal Tehran became the first Iranian football club to win the Asian Cup. They have won several official titles in the national and international stage since 1970, including eight Iranian League (1st tier) titles[1] and a record 6 Hazfi Cups,[2][3] with two titles in Asian Cup (in 1970 and 1991), so there are two golden stars printed on the badge of the team official kit.

Esteghlal is one of the most popular football clubs in Iran and the most successful Iranian football club in Asian football competitions with two AFC Champions League titles.

History[edit]

Establishment[edit]

Esteghlal's former emblem

On 20 September 1945, three Iranian military officers—Mirzani, Jananpour and Navab—started a sports club on Ferdowsi Street, Tehran. Since the founders of the club were mostly interested in cycling, the club's original name was Docharkhe Savaran (Persian: دوچرخه سواران‎), meaning 'The Cyclists' in Persian. Esteghlal football club played its first official match in 1946.

Emerging success[edit]

From the beginning Taj or Docharkeh Savaran competed in the Tehran Local League's, which at the time was the highest league in Iran. On 6 March 1950 Taj played its first official game in front of over 20,000 spectators in Amjadieh Stadium against Shahin, Taj managed a close 1-0 win.[4] Later in that year the club's name was officially changed to Taj which meant crown in Persian. In 1970 Esteghlal defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel in the final to win their first ever Asian Club Championship.

Taj Tehran after winning the Asian Champion Club Tournament in 1970

1979 Revolution[edit]

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the club was confiscated by the newly established Islamic government and put under the control of the Physical Education Organization of Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: سازمان تربیت بدنی جمهوری اسلامی ايران‎), a governmental organization, and change its name to Esteghlal (Persian: استقلال‎), 'Independence' in Persian. Taj (Persian: استقلال قهرمان ‎) means 'Crown' in Persian; after the revolution, any sign of the previous monarchist regime was not tolerated.

Post Revolution[edit]

During the 1980s, Esteghlal won the Tehran Football League twice. The 1989-90 season was a memorable won for Esteghlal. The club finished 1st in Group B of the Qods League which advanced them to the semi-finals. Esteghlal defeated Malavan 4-0 on aggregate to advance to the finals against rivals Persepolis. Esteghlal defeated rivals Persepolis 2-1 through a 74th minute goal by Samad Marfavi to win the Qods League, this proved to be one of the most memorable derbies for Esteghlal. In the following season, Esteghlal made it to the final of the Hazfi Cup only to lose to Malavan on penalties. 1991 proved to be one of Esteghlal's most memorable as they won the Asian Club Championship defeating Chinese club Liaoning 2-1. Esteghlal again reached the final of the Club Championship in 1999, this time losing to Japanese club Jubilo Iwata 2-1.

Iran Pro League[edit]

2001 marked the first year of the newly founded Iran Pro League, going into the final day Esteghlal was on top of the league. But, with an Esteghlal loss and a Persepolis win, Persepolis was crowned as the league's inaugural champions. However the Hazfi Cup provided some consolation for Esteghlal that year as they beat Fajr Sepasi 4-3 on aggregate. 2002 was one of the worst in club history, as under the management of Roland Koch, Esteghlal finished 9th in the Iran Pro League and was eliminated in the group stage phase of the AFC Champions League.

Esteghlal fans during a match

Ghalenoi Era[edit]

In July 2003 Amir Ghalenoi was appointed manager of Esteghlal. Under him in his first year, Esteghlal finished runners-up in the league, finishing two points behind champions Pas Tehran. Ghalenoi also made it to the final of the Hazfi Cup losing 5-2 on aggregate to Sepahan. His second season proved to be less successful as Esteghlal finished 3rd and failed to qualify to the Champions League. However, the 2005–06 Iran Pro League season was a completely different year. Esteghlal were crowned champions of the Iran Pro League for the first time in their history. At the end of the season Ghalenoi left Esteghlal for the national team job.

League Troubles[edit]

In 2006 after the departure of Amir Ghalenoi, Esteghlali legend Samad Marfavi took over the head coach role. Esteghlal had a disappointing season, finishing fourth, thus failing to secure a spot in the AFC Champions League, as well as only reaching the Round of 16 in the Hazfi Cup with a shock defeat to Fajr Sepasi. After Marfavi's abrupt departure, another Esteghlali great took over, this time former goalkeepr Nasser Hejazi took over, but after only 14 games and 4 defeats, Hejazi was fired as manager in November. Firooz Karimi was hired as the temporary head coach for the remainder of the year. Karimi did not fair much better than Hejazi and the team finished 13th in the league, its lowest finish ever. Karimi was fired in May 2008 and Amir Ghalenoi was again hired to finish the season for Esteghlal. He quickly regrouped the team and the Hazfi Cup proved to be a valuable consolation, as Esteghlal became champions after defeating Pegah Gilan 3-1 on aggregate, thus securing a Champions League spot after a 2 year absence. In Ghalenoi's first full season in his second stint with Esteghlal, he led them to a Iran Pro League championship, only finishing ahead of Zob Ahan on goal difference. However after a group stage exit in the AFC Champions League Ghalenoi resigned. Samad Marfavi took the reigns of Esteghlal for a second time, Marfavi lead the team to a 3rd place league finish in the 2009-2010 season and also lead the team to the Round of 16 of the AFC Champions League, losing to Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia 3-2 on aggregate. In the spring of 2010, Marfavi extended his contract for another year, but strangely a few days later he resigned. This time Esteghlal turned to Parviz Mazloomi a former Esteghlali player in the 1980s. During his two-year tenure with Esteghlal, he led the team to 2nd and 3rd place league finishes, as well as a Hazfi Cup trophy in 2012. After a 2-0 loss to fellow countrymen Sepahan in Round 16 of the Champions League, Mazloomi was sacked by the club and Amir Ghalenoi took the reins of Esteghlal for a third time.

The Return of Ghalenoi[edit]

2012 marked the start of an exiting year for Esteghlal as both former Aston Villa man Jlloyd Samuel, and Iranian National Captain Javad Nekounam joined the team. With these new players, Ghalenoi had no trouble leading Esteghlal to a comfortable league victory in his first season back. The team made it to the semi-finals of the Hazfi Cup as well, but they eventually lost out to Sepahan. 2012 also marked the year where Esteghlal almost made their return to the AFC Champions League final. They were paired up with Korean side F.C. Seoul in the semi-finals. After a 2-0 loss away in the first leg, Esteghlal faced an uphill task. They returned to the Azadi Stadium with much belief but eventually lost to Seoul 4-2 on aggregate. The 2013-14 season however was a disappointing one for Amir Ghalenoi and his team. With a chance to win the league on the final match day, Esteghlal lost 3-1 to Tractor Sazi and dropped to 5th place, and out of a champions league slot. Esteghlal also faced a shock defeat at the hands of Mes Kerman in the Hazfi Cup semi-finals. To top off Esteghlal's horrendous year, the team failed to get out of their Champions League group finishing 3rd in their group.

Tehran Derby[edit]

Main article: Tehran derby
Other important rivalries: Esteghlal–Sepahan rivalry

The club's main rival and its opponent in the Tehran Derby is Persepolis F.C. The first derby match between the clubs took place on April 5, 1968 at Amjadieh Stadium. Today, all derbies and home matches occur at the 84.412 capacity Azadi Stadium which is invariably sold out for the derby.

In 1995, IRIFF began to invite foreign referees to officiate the derby to ease fan and player suspicions of referee bias. This occurred after the events of the 38th derby. In the 38th derby (January 11, 1995), Persepolis was leading in the match by a score of 2–0 until the last 10 minutes of the match. Esteghlal scored two goals in quick succession, including one which was a penalty. This angered the Persepolis fans and players who felt the referee was biased towards Esteghlal (there was speculation about Esteghlal bribing the referee and the officials). Persepolis fans stormed the field, and fights broke out on the pitch between fans and players. Following this match it was decided that Iranian referees would no longer be used for the derby. After 13 years of foreign referees, the second leg of the 2008–09 season Derby saw an Iranian once again refereeing the game. The game ended a draw with goals coming from Mojtaba Jabari and Maziar Zare.

Supporters and Fans[edit]

Esteghlal is one of the highest supported teams in Iranian football. It is said in unofficial counts that the club has over 30 million fans.The club is based in Tehran and is popular in all parts of country. Esteghlal also has a fan base in Afghanistan and Persian Gulf countries.[5]

Famous Fans[edit]

Stadium[edit]

Main article: Azadi Stadium
Esteghlal fans celebrating their team's league title championship in the last match of the 2012–13 season at the Azadi Stadium.

The Azadi Stadium is Iran's national stadium and the largest in the country. The Azadi Stadium officially had a capacity of 100,000 people at the beginning[55][56] and was built to host the 1974 Asian Games. The stadium is part of the much larger Azadi Sports Complex, and is surrounded by a rowing river, football training pitches, a weightlifting complex, swimming facilities and indoor volleyball and futsal courts, among many other amenities. Today Azadi Stadium - with a capacitiy of 84,412 after renovations in 2002[57] - is the twelfth biggest association football stadium in the world, fifth in Asia and first in West Asia.[55][58]

Esteghlal's home stadium is the Azadi (Persian: ورزشگاه آزادی‎), a football stadium in Tehran, Iran. The Stadium's former name was Aryamehr Stadium but was changed after the Iranian Revolution. The stadium has been filled over capacity on numerous occasions, for example when it faces rivals Persepolis F.C. in the Tehran Derby or in several AFC Champions League matches. Prior to the construction of Azadi, Esteghlal used to play their games at Amjadieh Stadium.

Players[edit]

Current Squad[edit]

See also: 2014–15 Esteghlal F.C. season

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Brazil GK Alberto Rafael da Silva
2 Iran DF Khosro Heidari
3 Armenia DF Hrayr Mkoyan
4 Iran DF Amir Hossein Sadeghi
5 Iran DF Hanif Omranzadeh
8 Iran MF Pejman Nouri
9 Iran FW Arash Borhani
11 Iran FW Mohammad Ghazi
12 Iran GK Mohsen Forouzan
No. Position Player
13 Iraq MF Karrar Jassim
14 Iran MF Andranik Teymourian
15 Iran MF Omid Ebrahimi
16 Iran DF Hashem Beikzadeh
20 Iran MF Ahmad Jamshidian
28 Iran FW Sajjad Shahbazzadeh
31 Iran MF Mohammad Reza Khorsandnia
34 Iran DF Milad Fakhreddini
Iran MF Mehdi Karimian

Reserve and Academy[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
13 Iran DF Ghasem Ghamoushi
15 Iran DF Ahmad Ne'mat Allahi
18 Iran FW Babak Jabbari
22 Iran GK Farzin Garousian
27 Iran MF Hamid Reaza Nojavan
29 Iran FW Mohsen Karimi
Iran FW Iman Abaszadeh
Iran DF Mehdi Karbalaie
No. Position Player
Iran MF Soheil Asgharzadeh
Iran MF Ali Ramezani
Iran DF Milad Soleimani
Iran GK Morteza Ghadimi Pour
Iran FW Omid Noorafkan
Iran MF Mohammad Khalili
Iran MF Saeid Amraei

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
34 Iran MF Iman Basafa (at Esteghlal Khuzestan)

For recent transfers, see List of Iranian football transfers summer 2014.

Notable Players[edit]

Players with Dual Nationality[edit]

World Cup players[edit]

Olympic Players[edit]

Club Managers[edit]

Notable Managers[edit]

Only managers who have won at least one trophy are mentioned.

Name Period Trophies
Domestic International
IPL HC AL ACL
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Zdravko Rajkov 1969–76
0
1
2
1
Iran Mansour Pourheidari
1983–86
1989–92
1995–96
2000–02
0
2
2
1
Iran Nasser Hejazi 1996–99
0
0
1
0
Iran Amir Ghalenoie 2003–06
2008–09
2012–
3
2
0
0
Iran Parviz Mazloumi 2010–12
0
1
0
0

IPL managers[edit]

Name Nat From To Record
P W D L Win %
Mansour Pourheidari Iran Feb 2000 Jul 2002 26 13 9 4 50%
Roland Koch[59] Germany Jul 2002 Jun 2003 26 8 8 10 31%
Amir Ghalenoie[60][61][62] Iran Jul 2003 Jul 2006 86 46 30 10 53%
Samad Marfavi[63] Iran Jul 2006 Aug 2007 30 14 10 6 47%
Nasser Hejazi Iran Aug 2007 Nov 2007 14 5 5 4 36%
Firooz Karimi Iran Nov 2007 May 2008 20 6 5 9 30%
Amir Ghalenoie[64] Iran Jul 2008 Jun 2009 34 19 9 6 56%
Samad Marfavi[65] Iran Jul 2009 Jun 2010 34 16 11 7 47%
Parviz Mazloomi Iran Jun 2010 May 2012 68 37 20 11 54%
Amir Ghalenoie Iran Jun 2012 Present 64 34 19 11 53%

Current Management Team[edit]

Amir Ghalenoei, current Esteghlal head coach.
Position Name
Head coach Iran Amir Ghalenoei
First team coach Iran Sattar Hamedani
Assistant coach Iran Javad Zarincheh
Assistant coach Iran Mahmoud Fekri
Goalkeeper coach Iran Karim Boostani
Fitness coach Iran Amir Hajghasem
Technical adviser Iran Sirous Dinmohammadi
Doctor Iran Kaveh Sotoudeh
Physiotherapist Iran Amin Noroozi
Psychologist Iran Abbas Montazeri
Analyzer Iran Iman Alami
Analyzer Iran Nima Rasouli
Technical manager Iran Mansour Pourheidari
Football academy president Iran Asghar Hajiloo[66]
Team Manager Iran Mirshad Majedi

Chairmen[edit]

Chairman Tenure
Iran Parviz Khosravani
September 1945 – June 1960
Iran Parviz Sheikhan
June 1960 – February 1979
Iran Ali Abdullahi Nourozi
May 1979 – May 1983
Iran Kazem Oliaei
January 1988 – May 1996
Iran Ali Fathollahzadeh
May 1996 – May 2003
Iran Hossein Gharib
June 2003 – July 2005
Iran Kazem Oliaei
July 2005 – December 2005
Iran Hossein Gharib
December 2005 – September 2006
Iran Meghdad Najafnejad
September 2006 – May 2007
Iran Ali Fathollahzadeh
May 2007 – September 2008
Iran Amir Reza Vaezi Ashtiani
September 2008 – May 2010
Iran Ali Nazari Juybari
May 2010 – June 2010
Iran Ali Fathollahzadeh
June 2010 – May 2014
Iran Bahram Afsharzadeh
May 2014 – present

Achievements[edit]

Domestic[edit]

League[edit]

Cups[edit]

Provincial[edit]

  • Tehran Football League (Record):
    • Winners (14): 1949–50, 1951–52, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1959–60, 1961–62, 1963–64, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1991–92
    • Runners-up (6): 1946–47, 1958–59, 1968–69, 1982–83, 1989–90, 1990–91
  • Tehran Hazfi Cup:
    • Winners (2): 1947, 1959

Continental[edit]

Unofficial titles[edit]

  • Caspian Cup:
    • Winners (1): 1996
  • Kish Quartet Competition Cup:
    • Winners (1): 1996
  • Ettehad Cup:
    • Winners (1): 1973
  • Turkmenistan President's Cup:
    • Winners (1): 1998
  • Bordoloi Trophy:
    • Winners (1): 1989
  • Milz Cup:
    • Winners (4): 1969, 1970, 1971, 1989
    • Runners-Up (1): 1972
  • Qatar Independence Cup:
    • Winners (1): 1991
  • Emirates Quartet Competition Cup:
    • Runners-up (1): 1996

Statistics and records[edit]

Statistics in IPL[edit]

Statistics in ACL[edit]

  • Most goals scored in a match: 8 – 0 (1 time)
  • Most goals conceded in a match: 4 – 0 (1 time)
  • Player with the most goals in a single match: Ali Jabari with 3 goals

Statistics in Hazfi Cup[edit]

  • Most goals scored in a match: 13 – 0 (1 time)
  • Most goals conceded in a match: 0 – 3 (1 time)
  • Player with the most goals in a single match: Arash Borhani with 5 goals

General statistics[edit]

  • All-time top scorer: Arash Borhani with 102 goals (All Competitions)
  • All-time Most Appearances: Arash Borhani, 248 (All Competitions)
  • Player who has won most titles: Farhad Majidi with 5 titles

Esteghlal have been the most successful Iranian club in Asia and one of the most successful football clubs in Iran.

  • Table Shows The Iran Premier League Ranking For The Successful Clubs in These All 12 Seasons.
Pos. Club Seasons Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Best Rank
1 Esteghlal 13 402 198 126 78 602 384 +218 719 Champions
2 Sepahan 13 402 192 123 91 597 388 +209 682 Champions
3 Persepolis 13 402 174 135 93 565 423 +142 650 Champions
4 Zob Ahan 13 402 158 132 112 485 412 +73 606 2nd
  • And The Following Table Lists Clubs By Number of Winners And Runner-up In AFC Champions League (Asian Club Championship Also Included).
Team Winners Runners-Up Years Won Years Lost
South Korea Pohang Steelers 3 0 1996–97, 1997–98, 2009
Iran Esteghlal FC 2 2 1970, 1990–91 1991–92, 1998–99
Saudi Arabia Al-Hilal FC 2 2 1991–92, 1999–2000 1986–87, 1987–88
South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 2 2 1995–96, 2010 1996–97, 2004
Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC 2 1 2004, 2005 2009

Season-by-season[edit]

For details on seasons, see List of Esteghlal F.C. seasons

Best goal-scorers of Esteghlal[edit]

Sponsorship[edit]

IPL shirt sponsors and manufacturers[edit]

Period Kit Manufacturer Shirt Sponsor
2001–02 Daei SWE LG
2002–03
2003–04 Jouraban Aiwa
2004–05 Aghili Sharp
2005–06 Abi Pooshan SAGEM
2006–07 Merooj MTN Irancell
2007–08 CCC
Aghili Shahrvand Chain Stores
2008–09 Uhlsport Iran Mobile Market
2009–10
2010–11 City Bank
2011–12
2012–13 Refah Bank
2013–14 Merooj Iran Furniture Market
2014–15 Joma

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  54. ^ "«گفت‌وگويی با مهدی يزدانی خرم:اخبار ورزشی رو پيگيری مي‌كنم به‌عنوانِ يه استقلاليِ دو آتيشه". 
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  66. ^ http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/news/230154/حاجیلو-رئیس-آکادمی-فوتبال-استقلال-شد

"استقلال پرطرفدارترین تیم ایران". 


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Esteghlal Fans[edit]

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Achievements
Preceded by
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel
Champions of Asia
1970
Succeeded by
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel
Preceded by
Liaoning FC
China
Champions of Asia
1990–91
Succeeded by
Al-Hilal
Saudi Arabia