Esteghlal F.C.

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باشگاه فرهنگی ورزشی استقلال تهران
Esteghlal FC.svg
Full name Esteghlal Tehran Football Club
Nickname(s) S-S
The Blues
Crown of Asia
Founded 26 September 1945; 69 years ago (1945-09-26) (as Docharkheh Savaran)
Ground Azadi Stadium
Ground Capacity 95,225[1]
Chairman Bahram Afsharzadeh
Coach Parviz Mazloumi
2014–15 Iran Pro League, 6th
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 Persian Gulf 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[2] and a record 6 Hazfi Cups,[3][4] 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'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. 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: تاج ‎) 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. 2002–03 season was one of the worst years in club history, as they finished 9th under the management of Roland Koch and were 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, his assistant and youth team coach 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. Firouz Karimi was hired as the temporary head coach for the remainder of the year. Karimi did not fare 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 two years of absence. During Ghalenoi's first full and only 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 2009–10 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 Mazloumi a former Esteghlal player in the 1980s. During his two-years 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, Mazloumi was sacked by the club and Amir Ghalenoi took the reins of Esteghlal for a third time.

Return of Ghalenoi[edit]

The new era was started with an exiting year for Esteghlal as both former Aston Villa man Jlloyd Samuel, and Iran national football team 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. The season also marked the year where Esteghlal almost made their return to the AFC Champions League final. They were paired up with Korean side FC 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 FC Seoul 4–2 on aggregate. The next season however was a disappointing one for 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. Ghalenoi earned the title of "Generator" from the club's fan for his performance.

Tehran Derby[edit]

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

The club's biggest rival and its opponent in the Tehran Derby is Persepolis 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 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 20, 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's fans

Esteghlal is one of the highest supported teams in Iranian football. The club is based in Tehran and is popular in all parts of country. Esteghlal also has a fan base in the United States, Europe and Persian Gulf countries.

Famous Fans[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[59][60] 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 capacity of 84,412 after renovations in 2002.[61]

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.


Current Squad[edit]

See also: 2015–16 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 Iran GK Mehdi Rahmati (captain)
2 Iran DF Khosro Heydari (4th captain)
3 Iran MF Mohammad Reza Khorsandnia
4 Iran DF Roozbeh Cheshmi U23
5 Iran DF Hanif Omranzadeh
6 Iran MF Omid Ebrahimi
9 Iran FW Arash Borhani (3rd captain)
10 Iran FW Sajjad Shahbazzadeh
11 Iran MF Jaber Ansari
13 Iraq MF Karrar Jassim
15 Armenia DF Hrayr Mkoyan
17 Iran DF Amin Hajmohammadi
18 Iran MF Soheil Asgharzad U23
19 Iran MF Alireza Ramezani U23
No. Position Player
20 Iran DF Meysam Majidi
21 Iran DF Majid Hosseini U21
22 Iran GK Vahid Talebloo (2nd captain)
24 Iran MF Omid Noorafkan U21
25 Iran DF Mohammad Khalili U23
27 Iran MF Mohammad Reza Soleimani U21
28 Iran FW Mohsen Karimi U23
34 Iran DF Milad Fakhreddini
35 Iran DF Mehdi Karbalaei U23
44 Iran FW Behnam Barzay U23
Iran MF Amir Hossein Tahuni
Iran MF Iman Basafa
- Iran MF Farshid Esmaili U23
  • U21 = Under 21 Player
  • U23 = Under 23 Player

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
Iran GK Hossein Hosseini (at Malavan until 30 June 2016)

For recent transfers, see List of Iranian football transfers summer 2015.

Notable Players[edit]

World Cup players[edit]

Olympic Players[edit]

Club Managers[edit]

Notable Managers[edit]

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

Name Period Trophies
Domestic International
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Zdravko Rajkov 1969–76 0 1 2 1
Iran Mansour Pourheidari 1983–86
0 2 2 1
Iran Nasser Hejazi 1996–99 0 0 1 0
Iran Amir Ghalenoie 2003–06
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 February 2000 July 2002 26 13 9 4 50%
Roland Koch[62] Germany July 2002 June 2003 26 8 8 10 31%
Amir Ghalenoei[63][64][65] Iran July 2003 July 2006 86 46 30 10 53%
Samad Marfavi[66] Iran July 2006 August 2007 30 14 10 6 47%
Nasser Hejazi Iran August 2007 November 2007 14 5 5 4 36%
Firooz Karimi Iran November 2007 May 2008 20 6 5 9 30%
Amir Ghalenoei[67] Iran July 2008 June 2009 34 19 9 6 56%
Samad Marfavi[68] Iran July 2009 June 2010 34 16 11 7 47%
Parviz Mazloumi Iran June 2010 May 2012 68 37 20 11 54%
Amir Ghalenoei Iran June 2012 June 2015 92 47 26 19 52%
Parviz Mazloumi Iran June 2015 Present 0 0 0 0 0%

Current Management Team[edit]

Position Name
Head coach Iran Parviz Mazloumi
Assistant coach Iran Majid Saleh
Assistant coach Iran Sirous Dinmohammadi
Goalkeeper coach Iran Hossein Torabpour
Fitness coach Iran Ali Asghar Ghorbanali Pour
Doctor Iran Kaveh Sotoudeh
Physiotherapist Iran Amin Noroozi
Analyzer Iran Mohammad Navazi
Analyzer Iran Farzad Majidi
Analyzer Iran Mahdi Arjangi Nia
Team Manager Iran Mansour Pourheidari


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






  • Tehran Football League (Record):
    • Winners (12): 1949–50, 1951–52, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1959–60, 1961–62, 1963–64, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1983–84, 1985–86
    • Runners-up (6): 1946–47, 1958–59, 1968–69, 1982–83, 1989–90, 1990–91
  • Tehran Hazfi Cup:
    • Winners (2): 1947, 1959


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
  • Shohada Cup:
    • Runners-up (1): 2014

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]

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 last 13 seasons.
Pos. Club Seasons Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Best Rank
1 Esteghlal 14 432 211 134 87 642 418 +224 766 Champions
2 Sepahan 14 432 209 131 96 643 415 +228 741 Champions
3 Persepolis 14 432 183 144 105 596 458 +138 686 Champions
4 Zob Ahan 14 432 172 142 118 531 438 +93 658 2nd
  • And the Following Table lists clubs by number of their titles (Asian Club Championship also included).
Team Winners Runners-Up Years Won Years Lost
South Korea Pohang Steelers 3 0 1996–97, 1997–98, 2009
Saudi Arabia Al-Hilal FC 2 3 1991–92, 1999–2000 1986–87, 1987–88, 2013-14
Iran Esteghlal FC 2 2 1970, 1990–91 1991–92, 1998–99
South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 2 2 1995–96, 2010 1996–97, 2004
Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC 2 1 2004, 2005 2009


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



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"استقلال پرطرفدارترین تیم ایران". 

Official Website[edit]

Esteghlal Fans[edit]


Preceded by
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Champions of Asia
Succeeded by
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Preceded by
Liaoning FC
Champions of Asia
Succeeded by
Saudi Arabia