Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan Football Club (Persian: باشگاه فوتبال فولاد مبارکه ی سپاهان اصفهان) commonly known as Sepahan is an Iranianfootball club based in Isfahan, Iran. They compete in Iran's top-level league known as Iran Pro League and hold most of the records in the IPL under their belt. In 2002–03 season, they became the first non-Tehran based team to win the Iranian League title. Sepahan is the current champion of IPL in 2011–12 season, reaching the record of four championships in the eleven-year IPL history. They are also the first and the only Iranian football club who won three consecutive titles in Iranian Football League history.
Sepahan Football Club is usually known for its successful and consistent management in Iranian football system. By winning multiple tiles since 2003, they have succeeded to end the complete dominance of two famous clubs, Persepolis and Esteghlal, in Iranian football system. The Club is the football division of Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan Sport Club and is owned by Mobarakeh Steel Co..
In 1953, with the help of Mahmoud Hariri, the Shahin Isfahan club was created. This club was one of teams attached to the more popular and successful Shahin F.C. of Tehran. In 1967 due to the problems that arose in the Shahin F.C. organization in Tehran, the Isfahan branch was forced to cease operations. The club changed its name to Sepahan. The club participated in Takht Jamshid Cup league since 1974 to 1978.
After the Revolution, they played in the local Isfahan leagues for many years until 1993. That year the club was purchased by the Siman (cement) factory of Isfahan. It participated in the Azadegan League until the year 2000, when Foolad Mobarekeh (Steel Mill of Mobarekeh Isfahan) bought the team from the Siman factory. The team now plays under the name of Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan, and enjoys very good support by the club board, and has been able to attain a respectable fan base in its hometown.
The club was able to demonstrate its worth when it captured the league title in the 2002–03 season of the IPL, and qualified for the AFC Champions League tournament with Farhad Kazemi. It also won the Hazfi Cup in 2004 and was able to qualify for another season of the ACL competition, though the club did not have much success in the continental tournaments of ACL 2004 and 2005.
With Luka Bonačić, Sepahan was able to once again win the Hazfi Cup on 22 September 2006. With this win, they gained Iran's final and second spot in the AFC Champions League 2007. They were impressive in continental stage as they finished top of their group and defeated Kawasaki Frontale of Japan and Al Wahda of the UAE to reach the final of the newly established continental tournament for the first time. Although they lost the final to Urawa Red Diamonds on aggregate, by reaching the final, Sepahan became the first Iranian club to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.
In the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup 2007, Sepahan defeated Waitakere United of New Zealand to reach the quarter-final where they met Urawa Red Diamonds for a spot in the semifinal match against AC Milan. Urawa Reds managed to defeat Sepahan for the second time in just one month, reaching the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Sepahan has qualified for the AFC Champions League for the third consecutive time in 2009, coming as the Runners-up in Persian Gulf Cup 2007-08. Sepahan lost the title by only one point to Persepolis F.C., who beat them 2–1 in the last match of the season with a winner six minutes into second half injury time. They tried to improve the team where they sacked the Brazilian coach Viera and replaced him with the German coach Firat but they had a difficult season where they could not win anything in 2008–09 season and changed the coach for 3 times.
In the next season sepahan hired Turkish and former Iran's assistant coach Engin Firat, but he was fired after getting poor result in the league, and Hossein Charkhabi who was Sepahan Novin head coach at that time replaced Firat. Despite getting good result with team Charkahbi was replaced once again with Farhad Kazemi who won the league title with Sepahan in 2002–03 season. Finally Sepahan finished 4th in the league and qualified for 2010 AFC Champions League Group stage. In the next season club hired former's Iran & Esteghlal head coach Amir Ghalenoei, at the helm of Sepahan's 2010 Season, the club sealed a championship title two weeks before the end of the season with a 2–2 tie against F.C. Aboomoslem.
In 2010–11 Persian Gulf Cup, Sepahan dominated the league after a slow start and practically won the title 2 weeks before the season end. They also advanced to the knock out stage of the ACL competition, after finishing on top of the table in the group stage. Their group was arguably the group of death, consisting of Al-Hilal, Al Gharafa and Al-Jazira. They won their third championship and became the most successful team in Iran Pro League.
In 2013 however, Sepahan was placed in Group C of the 2013 AFC Champions League and was unable to get past 2013 AFC Champions League group stage. Being placed in the same group as Al-Gharafa Sports Club of Qatar, Al-Ahli SC of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates' Al Nasr SC, they were unsuccessful to qualify as one of the top two teams of their group. Sepahan started the 2013 AFC Champions League with a great win at home against Al Nasr SC, however heading for an away game against Al-Gharafa Sports Club in Qatar, Sepahan only returned home humiliated by the Qatari team in a 3–1 lost game. That was not the end of Sepahan's poor performance in the AFC Champions League. About three weeks after their loss in Qatar, Sepahan hosted Al-Ahli SC at Foolad Shahr Stadium, losing poorly once again but this time with a score of 4–2. Sepahan still had a chance after those two losses, but all hopes were lost once they lost in front of the Saudi giants again, this time with a score of 4–1 thus having them bid farewell to the 2013 AFC Champions League.
In the 2013–14Iran Pro League season, Sepahan finished 4th. Thus missing out on the AFC Champions League for the first time in five years. At the end of the season, Croatian manager Zlatko Kranjčar announced that he would not be returning for the 2014-2015 season. Sepahan also struggled in the Champions League as well, failing to make it past the group stage with a 1–0 loss to Al Hilal on the final match day. After originally announcing he was leaving the club, Sepahan announced that they had extended the contract of Kranjčar for another season.
Sepahan is also one of the clubs in Iranian football to have a senior reserve team, Foolad Sepahan Novin F.C., that as of the 2007/08 season, participates in 3rd Division and the Hazfi Cup. The reserve team was promoted to the Iran Pro League from the Azadegan League, but was not allowed to participate due to Fifa's regulations about two teams from the same club playing in the same league.
The Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Isfahan, Iran that is home ground of Sepahan. It is currently used for football matches. The stadium was built in 2003 and holds 45,000 in a three-tier configuration. It is currently used by Sepahan, an Iranianfootball team in Iran's Premier Football League.The first phase finished in 2003 and they have decided to finish the second phase which is the first floor of the stadium. It was started in 2007 and has been going on but meant to finish by 2008 and is still going on till summer 2014. The final capacity in of the stadium will be 75,000. Sepahan's second home ground is Foolad Shahr Stadium that is home ground of Zob Ahan F.C. too. Some of matches of Sepahan are held in that stadium.
Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium will be the second biggest stadium in Iran after the Azadi Stadium.
This list of former players includes those who received international caps (in bold) while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.
This list of "famous" or "notable" sporting persons has no clear inclusion or exclusion criteria. Please help to define clear inclusion criteria and edit the list to contain only subjects that fit those criteria. (August 2014)