News > Iranian Armenians > Andranik Teymourian plays in the Iranian football team
Only Christian on Iran national side says he plays for his country
"I am very happy that as a Christian I am playing for a Muslim team," Says Andranik Teymourian.
By Slobodan Lekic
AP Worldstream, Jun 14, 2006
Many soccer players have a habit of routinely crossing themselves as they emerge onto the field for a World Cup match.
But Andranik Teymourian is different.
His simple gesture has amazed television viewers around the world because Teymourian plays on the national team of Iran, one of most thoroughly Islamic nations in the world.
Teymourian is a member of Iran's tiny Armenian minority, part of an Orthodox Christian presence dating back to biblical times. About 200,000 Armenians currently live in Iran, mostly in Tehran and other towns of the northwest.
Although Iran is an Islamic theocratic state, Christianity and other non-Muslim religions are not banned as in other strictly fundamentalist states such as Saudi Arabia.
"I'm the first Christian Iranian player in the World Cup since 1978," Teymourian said.
The last non-Muslim player on the national team was defender Andranik Eskandarian in 1978. He now lives in the United States.
The gangly, 22-year old midfielder, who is seen as one of the great hopes of Iranian soccer, plays for the Aboo Muslim club from Tehran.
He also has played for Iran at every youth level so far before being drafted to the national squad by coach Branko Ivankovic.
"He is a wonderful player. Very serious, very committed, I can rely on him to fulfill any task," Ivankovic said. "He will definitely play a big role on the national team for many years to come."
Teymourian says he gets along very well with his teammates, and that religious differences don't affect their relations on the field or on a personal level.
"I am very happy that as a Christian I am playing for a Muslim team," he said. "I will put all my abilities at the disposal of the nation and the team."
He said that normally he regularly attends church in Tehran.
"But it's been impossible to get out of the camp in Germany because of security, so I haven't been able to do so here."
Note from Azad-Hye:
It is unfortunate that up to this moment Iran lost two matches in the World Cup games (3-1 in front of Mexico, and 2-0 in front of Portugal). It remains to know whether the Iranian players would be able to return back home with a single win on 21 June 2006 against Angola.
1- Potrait of Andranik Teymourian
2- Andranik Teymourian number 24 player in the national team of Iran.