Iran isn’t in the best position these days. As the cold war between them and the United States ensues, the people of Iran would be gripped by fear. It is the fear of what is to come and fear of probably the worst for them and their country. While what will happen or won’t happen is anyone’s guess, but there is hardly a state of normalcy in the country.
Amidst these fears and anxieties, any morsel of joy can give the people hope. That hope for Iran has come in the form of Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
When the former AZ Alkmaar man came on to make an impact against Chelsea on Boxing Day, there was perhaps a glimmer in every Iranian’s eye. Jahanbakhsh had found the back of the net for the first time in Brighton and Hove Albion colours in their previous game against Bournemouth. This was meant to be another shot at redemption. It was to be a chance to get global acclaim that he is finally back amongst the goals. Leading online bookmaker asiabet8888.com had been offering odds of 20/1 for Jahanbaksh to score, so anyone who backed him will have cashed in.
What happens moments later did grab the world’s attention, let alone Iran’s. Jahanbakhsh’s sensational overhead kick drew the Seagulls level, handing them a huge point. Amex Stadium had fans staring in bewilderment, with hands on their heads in disbelief. It was all football is meant to be- those special moments.
Some who don’t watch the Premier League probably couldn’t believe that this man had only scored two in his 15-month long stint at Brighton. But to his countrymen in Iran, it meant the world. The country’s son was back amongst the goals once again.
During his time at AZ, Jahanbakhsh had been on fire. In the 2017-18 season, the right winger had made 39 appearances in all competitions for the club and got a tally of 22 goals and 14 assists. This was a huge upgrade from the 2016-17 season, when Jahanbakhsh had contributed to 22 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions for the Alkmaar-based outfit.
The 2014-15 campaign was his last at former NEC Nijmegen. And Jahanbakhsh had bowed out with an impressive campaign that had attracted interest from a bigger club in AZ. He played 31 games in all competitions, scoring 13 times and racking up as many as 18 assists for the club.
Nijmegen was Jahanbakhsh first Eredivisie club. His time at Damash Gilan in the Persian Gulf Pro league had given him the exposure to go onto do bigger things elsewhere in Europe. While he got only ten goals in 44 appearances for them, the winger was only growing in stature as a teenager.
Nijmegen brought him for a fee of €250,000- something that would dwarf what Chris Hughton’s Brighton spent on him for his move in the summer of 2018. The €19 million fee is astronomical, considering what his price was back in 2011.
Last season was probably the worst of the 26-year-old’s career. Apart from not scoring a single goal, his confidence looked shot. He had a hamstring injury around the turn of the year, before going to international duty with Iran. He could never get the momentum or a run going to make an impact. The first year in the Premier League was always going to be tough anyway.
Jahanbakhsh’s goal against Chelsea was followed by a stream of tears from the Iran international. It was an overflow of emotions- the fruition of struggle that had finally paid off. After the goal, he told the Telegraph:
“It’s been very tough times for me, last couple of weeks for me and my family have been very difficult because such a thing never happened in my career.
“Last season, it wasn’t the best season for me. I missed a lot of games – almost half with the Asia Cup and injuries but I don’t want to take it as an excuse.”
Those words in itself say a lot about Jahanbakhsh’s mentality. When others could have gone away after a bad spell, he had the determination to fight and keep going to prove detractors wrong. The ongoing struggle never became a reason for him to give up the adventure. He fought for it came through. After dark times, he is now seeing happier days.
That should resonate a lot with his countrymen back in Tehran. These might be tough times for them. But as Jahanbakhsh did, they can come out of the other end of this struggle with tears of joy.