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Afshin the Emperor or how he learned to love his enemies

By Masoud Hossein

TEHRAN, May 30 (Mehr News Agency)--Iranians got to know Afshin Ghotbi for the first time as the U.S. Soccer Team's technical staff twenty years ago. At that time nobody expected to see him in Iran as the coach of the most popular Persian team.

Ghotbi flew immediately to Tehran after the end of the 2006 Asian Nations cup where he was Pim Verbeek's assistant for the South Korean team. He came back to his motherland after about 30 years in August 2007 to steer Iran's most successful club, Persepolis. The American-Iranian promised the solicitous fans that he will bring Persepolis' title drought to an end in the upcoming season.

In the beginning of the season Ghotbi, the 44 year-old who was greeted everywhere as "Afshin the Emperor", obliterated all of Persepolis' rivals. He was assisted by Hamid Estili, who scored the goal of the century when he found the net against the United States in 1998 World Cup.

Ghotbi used to continuously encourage the Persepolis players to win the title, however he was ridiculed by some Iranian experts. They ruled out his optimism, saying Ghotbi was just enjoying his honeymoon with the team.

The disputes started by and by when Estili interviewed with some newspapers and expressed his dissatisfaction with Ghotbi's ways. Then some Persepolis players joined in a vague enmity. Nonetheless, Persepolis' officials denied any speculation over the matter.

Ghotbi is understood to have also been unhappy with Persepolis' staff but not only did he not criticize his co-workers but he also praised them each time.

Ghotbi needed to improve his communication skills with his compatriots. To do this, firstly, he started making a stable foundation with the many bricks which were thrown at him. He paid tribute to the Iranian teams and coaches, contrary to them who were used to putting the blame on referees, rival's defending styles, awful fields, fans and so on, after losing a match.

Ghotbi knew how to keep things in perspective, and his dreams finally came true in Iran's football. He will always have a place in Iranian fan's hearts. Ghotbi taught his Iranian colleagues in order to be a loved one has to be honest.

Today, Persepolis' officials are making efforts to change Ghotbi's mind about leaving, but it seems that these efforts are of no avail.

... Payvand News - 05/30/08 ... --

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