Number of Iranian Players to have played in the Premier League: 4
Most appearances: Ashkan Dejagah (43)
Most goals: Ashkan Dejagah (5)
Records as of 28th February 2019
Appearances: Ashkan Dejagah 43, Andranik Teymourian 21, Alireza Jahanbakhsh 11, Karim Bagheri 1
Goals: Ashkan Dejagah 5, Andranik Teymourian 2
Assists: Ashkan Dejagah 6
Iran enjoyed their best-ever World Cup performance last summer in Russia. Even though they did see elimination come their way in the group stages, they beat Morocco and then came within a whisker of knocking reigning European champions Portugal out in their final group game. Iran might have had the experience of former Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz as their international boss but when it comes to well-known players, they are thin on the ground.
Most of the best players from Iran’s history have tended to stay loyal to their homeland. Some have had the ability to try their luck abroad and one of those players is Ashkan Dejagah. Dejagah, who is currently playing back in Iran with Tractor Sazi, enjoyed his time in the European game, especially in Germany where he won the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg in 2009. In August 2012, he became only the third Iranian to play in the Premier League when he joined Fulham for a two-year stint that saw him chalk up 43 appearances, scoring five times. His first year at Craven Cottage was a struggle but he was one of the Cottagers better players in their appalling 2013-2014 campaign which ultimately ended in relegation. All of Dejagah’s goals came in that season including a matchwinner against Newcastle United and goals in the first matches of managers Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magath. Dejagah was voted by the fans as Fulham’s Player of the Season before moving onto Qatar.
The first Iranian player to play in the Premier League was Karim Bagheri. A two-footed midfielder known for his long-range shots from distance, he joined Charlton Athletic in 2000 but the death of his father and injuries restricted him making any major impact at The Valley. His English top-flight experience was restricted to an 18-minute run-out in a 2-0 defeat against Ipswich Town in November 2000. In 2002, he ended his frustrating time in English football and returned to Persepolis.
There is a current player also among the Premier League ranks in the shape of Alireza Jahanbakhsh who is currently at Brighton & Hove Albion. Jahanbakhsh arrived with a huge reputation after finishing as top scorer in the Eredivisie with 21 goals at AZ Alkmaar. He became the first Asian player to become top scorer in a major European league. So far, he has struggled to adapt to the physicality of the English game in the 11 appearances he has made but still only 25, the best could still be yet to come.
Andranik Teymourian is the other Iranian player to have Premier League experience. He played for Bolton Wanderers and Fulham in the top-flight and his two goals as a Premier League player came in a Man of the Match display for the Trotters against Wigan Athletic in April 2007. His time at Fulham was not so productive – just one appearance before he moved on-loan to Barnsley and a return then to Iranian club football.
It is currently down to Alireza Jahanbakhsh at the moment to make Iran have a major impact on the current foreign landscape of Premier League football.