Afshin Ghotbi

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Afshin Ghotbi
Afshin Ghotbi, Foolad-Sepahan 20190315 01.jpg
Ghotbi as manager of Foolad in 2019
Personal information
Full name Afshin Ghotbi
Date of birth (1964-02-08) 8 February 1964 (age 58)
Place of birth Tehran, Imperial State of Iran
Club information
Current team
Vancouver FC
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1981–1985[1] UCLA Bruins
Teams managed
Years Team
1984–1988 UCLA Bruins women
1988–2001 Global Soccer School[2]
1988–1991 La Cañada Spartans[2]
1997 San Fernando Valley[3]
1997–1998 United States (assistant)
2000–2002 South Korea (assistant)
2002–2004 Suwon Bluewings (assistant)
2004–2005 Los Angeles Galaxy (assistant)
2005–2007 South Korea (assistant)
2007–2008 Persepolis
2009–2011 Iran
2011–2014 Shimizu S-Pulse
2016 Buriram United
2016–2018 Shijiazhuang Ever Bright
2018–2019 Foolad
2019–2021 Cangzhou Mighty Lions
2022– Vancouver FC

Afshin Ghotbi (Persian: افشین قطبی, born 8 February 1964 in Tehran)[4] is an Iranian-American football coach who works as head coach of Vancouver FC in the Canadian Premier League.

Early life[edit]

Afshin Ghotbi was born in Tehran. He is the son of a teacher in Iran[5] with whom he left Iran at the age of 13 after his father remarried and moved to Los Angeles, where he has been a resident for more than two decades. He received his BSc qualification in Electrical Engineering from UCLA where he was a member of the football team.[3][6]


Early years[edit]

Prior to coaching at the professional level, Ghotbi founded one of the best youth football academies named AGSS in Southern California, responsible for the discovery and development of players such as Peter Vagenas and John O'Brien and many more.


He became assistant manager of the USMNT from 1997 to 1998, working under Steve Sampson. He also participated in the USMNT squad for 1998 FIFA World Cup, where he had an emotional moment as his adopted country he worked played against Iran, the country of his origin.[7]

South Korea[edit]

He worked for Korea Republic national football team under Dutchman Guus Hiddink from December 2000 till July 2002 as a football analyst.[8] He continued his journey in Korea by taking the role of an assistant coach of Samsung Bluewings from 2002 to 2004. He returned to Korean National Team, as an assistant coach under Dick Advocaat from October 2005 until July 2006. He continued as an assistant coach for Korea under Dutch head coach Pim Verbeek, who he knew back in 2000 as part of South Korea's 2002 World Cup perpetration, from July 2006 till July 2007.

Return to Iran[edit]

In 2007, he was Head-Coach of Persepolis F.C., an Iran Pro League club, in compliance with the new contract he signed in August 2007. In February 2008 his name was on the shortlist for coaching the Iranian national team, however the job went to Ali Daei. He ultimately led Persepolis to Iranian Pro league championship in May 2008. Ghotbi left Persepolis in June 2008.[9]

Afshin Ghotbi was re-appointed as the new Persepolis head coach on 3 July 2008, after agreeing to sign a two-year deal following meeting Persepolis officials in Dubai.[10]

Following the session held at Persepolis club on 18 November 2008, Ghotbi announced his resignation on 19 November 2008.

Iranian national team[edit]

After just three weeks after being announced as manager, Mayeli Kohan became the spearhead of a heated dispute between himself and Esteghlal F.C. manager Amir Ghalenoei.[11] This resulted in the IRIFF forcing Mayeli Kohan's resignation as manager of Team Melli.[11] A week later, Afshin Ghotbi agreed to succeed Mayeli Kohan as head coach of the Iranian national team, becoming the first American to take the job.[12] After this appointment, Ghotbi said in an interview "A life dream, a longtime ambition and a journey written in the stars is about to be realized I have to thank all the people around the world who have cheered, supported and inspired me to have this opportunity",[13] Despite taking only one goal and 5 points in 3 matches in 11 days, Iran fell short to qualify for the World Cup 2010. He continued to coach Team Melli in 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualification where they won 3 matches out of 4 and lost the other one to Jordan Away and in which the team earned 13 points and qualified as the group leaders. With some wonderful results in friendlies (such as winning against Bosnia-Herzegovina and China and South Korea in their land and winning 8 matches in a row in 2010), Ghotbi earned the trust of the fans and qualified for the Asian Cup in Qatar. Later on he finished second in West Asian Football Federation Championship 2010. Iran was the only team in the Asian Cup 2010 competition to win all 3 group matches beating Iraq, North Korea and United Emirates with scoring 6 goals and conceding 1. Iran faced South Korea in the quarter-finals and lost South Korea by a goal from Yoon Bit-garam in extra time after a 0-0 regulation result.

Move to J. League[edit]

After the Asian Cup, Ghotbi signed three-year contract with Japan's J. League Division 1 side Shimizu S-Pulse.[14] He led the team for the end of 2011 season which ended in the tenth rank. In his second season at the club, his team started the league very successfully but later on they lost their form and finished the league in 9th place with one progress. They also reached the final game of J. League Cup but lost 1–2 to Kashima Antlers. On 30 July 2014, Ghotbi left Shimizu by mutual contest after leaving the club at the 12th place.

Buriram United[edit]

On 24 May 2016, Thai League T1 side Buriram United made an announcement of the appointments of Afshin Ghotbi. He has become the first Asian American foreign head coach of the club. On 28 May, Afshin Ghotbi made his managerial debut for Buriram United in a domestic league game against Nakhon Ratchasima and collected the win with 1-0 result. On 21 August, his contract was terminated after 3 months in charge.[15]

Shijiazhuang Ever Bright[edit]

Ghotbi was appointed by China League One team Shijiazhuang Ever Bright in November 2016. In the 2017 season, the team finished third. [16] After being dismissed in 2018, he returned for a second spell in July 2019.[17] He led the team to promotion into the Chinese Super League that year.[18] He left by mutual consent in September 2021.[19]

Vancouver FC[edit]

In November 2022, Ghotbi was named the first head coach of Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC.[20]

Managerial statistic[edit]

As of 11 August 2021
Naty Team From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
United States San Fernando Valley 1997 1997 18 9 7 2 30 31 −1 050.00
Iran Persepolis 27 July 2007 18 November 2008 51 26 15 10 88 59 +29 050.98
Iran Iran 22 April 2009 22 January 2011 30 16 6 8 39 27 +12 053.33
Japan Shimizu S-Pulse[21] 1 February 2011 30 July 2014 146 59 29 58 219 198 +21 040.41
Thailand Buriram United 24 May 2016 20 August 2016 22 12 7 3 61 28 +33 054.55
China Shijiazhuang Ever Bright 7 November 2016 1 November 2018 51 25 19 7 80 55 +25 049.02
Iran Foolad 1 December 2018 1 June 2019 16 6 5 5 17 21 −4 037.50
China Cangzhou Mighty Lions 20 July 2019 6 September 2021 65 25 13 27 60 72 −12 038.46
Career totals 382 170 99 113 594 491 +103 044.50

Note: win or lose by penalty shoot-out is counted as the draw in time.


Shimizu S-Pulse
J. League Cup Runner-up: 2012
Shijiazhuang Ever Bright



  1. ^ "UCLA alums leading U.S. and Iran toward World Cup". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b Afshin Ghotbi.
  3. ^ a b United Soccer Leagues (USL) Archived 10 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (13 July 2009). Retrieved on 22 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Afshin Ghobti's Official Bio". Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Aftab" (in Persian). Aftab.
  6. ^ Duerden, John (31 October 2007). "Meet the American who could lead Iran". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ "Afshin Ghotbi: '1998 had a bigger magnitude for Iranians than Americans'". 18 December 2019.
  8. ^ Bell, Jack (23 April 2009). "Iran Asks Iranian-American to Salvage Cup Bid". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  9. ^ "Coach quits after triumph". FIFA. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  10. ^ Azim-Araghi, Ali (3 July 2008) Afshin Ghotbi Appointed as the New Perspolis Coach.
  11. ^ a b IFF confirms Mayelikohan resignation. (22 April 2009). Retrieved on 22 August 2013.
  12. ^ Iran Appoint Afshin Ghotbi As National Team Coach. (22 April 2009). Retrieved on 22 August 2013.
  13. ^ Bell, Jack (23 April 2009). "Iran Asks Iranian-American to Salvage Cup Bid". The New York Times.
  14. ^ "Ghotbi took control Shimizu S-Pulse". Afshin Ghotbi. 26 January 2011. Archived from the original on 6 May 2011.
  15. ^ "BREAKING! ผลงานไม่เข้าเป้า!บุรีรัมย์แยกทาง"ก็อตบิ"ก่อนพักเบรค |".
  16. ^ "Summary - China League One - China PR - Results, fixtures, tables and news - Soccerway". Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  17. ^ "Shijiazhuang's Iranian coach Ghotbi has high hopes for Chinese football". South China Morning Post. 25 July 2020. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Summary - China League One - China PR - Results, fixtures, tables and news - Soccerway".
  19. ^ Reuters (6 September 2021). "China's Cangzhou parts company with Iranian coach Ghotbi". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  20. ^ "'It's a way of life': Vancouver FC coach Afshin Ghotbi reflects on passion, unifying power of soccer". Canadian Premier League. 2 November 2022. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  21. ^ J.League data site(in Japanese)

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Iran Pro League Winning Manager
Succeeded by