Tag Archives: Andranik Teymourian

Andranik Teymourian – first Christian to lead Iran’s football team as its permanent captain

The 32-year-old midfielder, known as Ando – or Samurai, due to his hairstyle – is not shy of showing his Christianity, often crossing himself on the field. In April 2015, Teymourian, who has played for Bolton Wanderers and Fulham, became the first Christian to lead Iran’s football team as its permanent captain. His first appearance as captain of the national team was however on 18 May 2014, when Teymourian captained Iran in the match against Belarus. In the same year he was named “Iranian footballer of the year”.

“I’m happy that as a Christian I play in a Muslim team,” he said in a recent interview. “I have Armenian roots but I hold the Iranian passport and I’m proud of that, I hold my flag high. I hope I can enhance the good reputation of Armenian people in Iran.”

Iran's midfielder Andranik Teymourian gestures during the friendly football match Iran vs Belarus in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2014 on May 18, 2014 in Kapfenberg, Austria. AFP PHOTO / SAMUEL KUBANI (Photo credit should read SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Ethnic Armenians make up the majority of Iran’s estimated 300,000 Christians. Armenians are fully integrated in Iranian society, from the musician Loris Tjeknavorian to Sombat Hacoupian, who founded one of the country’s most famous men’s clothing brands and is now a household name.

Although Islam is Iran’s official religion, it recognises Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians as accepted religious minorities. They are permitted their house of worship and usual religious services, and have reserved seats in the Iranian parliament. In a country where alcohol and pigmeat are forbidden, Christians are allowed to distil booze and eat pork.

There are at least 600 churches in Iran, including the sixth-century St Mary Church of Tabriz, mentioned by Marco Polo in his travel book. The adjacent province of West Azerbaijan boasts the ancient St Thaddeus Monastery, a Unesco world heritage site.

All minorities related posts on this blog: The other Iran | Minorities (with lots of interesting photos)

Read more: The Guardian , wikipedia | Andranik Teymourian

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Andranik Teymourian – Christian captain of Iran’s national team and national hero

Andranik Teymourian.jpg

Andranik Timotian-Samarani, known as Andranik “Ando” Teymourian, born March 6, 1983 in Tehran, Iran to ethnic Armenian parents. […]

Teymourian is an Iranian footballer who currently plays for Esteghlal in the Iran Pro League. He usually plays as a defensive midfielder, but can also play as a wide midfielder. From 2006 to 2010, he played for three clubs in England, including Bolton and Fulham in the Premier League.

He started to be recognized as a national hero in Iran because of the passion he showed for his country in the 2006 World Cup. […]

Teymourian played his first match for Iran in 2005, and has featured in the Iranian squad for the 2006 and 2014 World Cups, and also the 2007 and 2011 Asian Cups. He is notably the first Christian to captain the Iranian national team. Ref: Wikipedia

Ararat Armenian Sports Club and it’s stars

The Vanak neighborhood of central Tehran is home to a high concentration of Armenians; half of the approximately 80,000 Armenians in Iran live in Tehran, and most of those Tehrani Armenians live within Vanak and its orbit. […]

The Ararat Armenian Sports Club predates the Revolution and predates Reza Shah Pahlavi. […] The Sports Club is home to FC Ararat Tehran, a borderline-defunct soccer club that produced two heroes of Iranians, Armenians, and of course Armenian-Iranians. Andranik Eskandarian played for two years at Ararat before moving onto Taj (now Esteghlal due to yet another Revolution-necessitated makeover) as a stalwart defender. His national teams won the 1968, ‘72, and ‘76 and went to the country’s first World Cup in 1978. Andranik would later move to the United States to play for a legendary New York Cosmos side. A generation later, Andranik Teymourian would play youth ball for Ararat before moving on to Bolton in the English Premier League.

Teymourian collapes after Iran’s game against AngolaOne of the most iconic images from the 2006 World Cup

Someone like Teymourian can be a hero for Iranians of all religions without a hint of conflict.

The situation of Armenians (and other Christians) in Iran is of course far more normal than prevailing Western discourse may have an outside observer understand. Armenians have different treatment from most Iranians, with special privileges to consume pork, alcohol, and having Sundays off work that Muslims do not enjoy. But they are still effusively Iranian. Surp Khatch, for example, was built in part to memorialize the thousands of Armenian service members killed in the Iran-Iraq War. When Teymourian crosses himself before a match, his countrymen cheer this act as the mark of a pious Iranian. […]

Unfortunately, these days Ararat FC is far from its glory days. The team last competed in Iran’s top league in the 1995-1996 season.

Source: Ajam Media Collective (ajammc.com)

About famous Armenian churches in Iran and Armenian Iranians in general

One of the finest examples of Iranian architecture in the neighborhood of Vanak is an Armenian chapel, Surp Khatch. Surp Khatch Chapel holds a peculiar significance within Armenian-Iranian life.

There are dozens of Armenian churches within Iran, mostly in Tehran and the western provinces. Vank in New Julfa deserves special recognition, of course, for its role as the heart of the Isfahani community, brought to Persia by Shah Abbas I in the 17th century.

The Prelacy – the bureaucratic head of the Armenian Church in Iran – makes its home in Saint Sarkis, a church that dates back to 1970.

Armenian-Iranian architecture, particularly Surp Khatch, fits comfortably within the Iranian modernist idiom. The situation of Armenians (and other Christians) in Iran is of course far more normal than prevailing Western discourse may have an outside observer understand. Armenians have different treatment from most Iranians, with special privileges to consume pork, alcohol, and having Sundays off that Muslims do not enjoy. But they are still effusively Iranian. Surp Khatch, for example, was built in part to memorialize the thousands of Armenian service members killed in the Iran-Iraq War. When Teymourian (popular Armenian Iranian football star) crosses himself before a match, his countrymen cheer this act as the mark of a pious Iranian.

The negotiating of political space for religious minorities in an explicitly Islamic Republic is an ongoing political issue that is going strong on its fourth decade. But political concerns hardly frame daily life; Armenians and other religious minorities in Iran generally name their primary concerns as drug use and a rapidly deteriorating economy. The communities’ problems aren’t necessarily their status as minorities, but the general problems that stem from being Iranian. Indeed, minorities in Iran are well-integrated not only socially and culturally but politically as well. There are five Armenians in Parliament (compared to four Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, three Jews, and two Zoroastrians in the 290-seat Majlis). There are also Armenian observers to the Expediency Council and the Guardian Council.

Source: Ajam Media Collective | Towards an Armenian-Iranian Modern: Tehran Church Architecture & Post-Revolutionary Soccer Culture

Christian football (soccer) players of Iran

Iran has had a history of integrating members of it’s Christian minority in the national football team. Just to focus on the better known names this small selection should be put forward:

Andranik EskandarianAndranik Eskandarian was born on December 31, 1951 in Tehran in an Armenian family. He became a United States citizen in 1984. Eskandarian was a member of the Iranian team winning the Asia Cup 1976 in Tehran and reaching the quarterfinals of the Olympic Tournament in Montreal in 1976. He also played for Iran in the 1978 World Cup. Ref: wikipedia.org

edbEdmond Bezik (born 12 August 1975 in Tehran, Iran) is a retired Armenian-Iranian footballer and coach. He played for Persepolis, Sepahan and Ararat Tehran and was a member of Iran national football team. Having scored 22 goals for Ararat, 32 goals for Persepolis and 30 goals for Sepahan, he scored a total number of 84 goals during his time in Iran’s top division football league, becoming the top division’s all-time top goalscorer. Ref: wikipedia.org

Andranik TeymourianAndranik Timotian-Samarani, born March 6, 1983 is an Iranian-Armenian footballer, more commonly known as Andranik “Ando” Teymourian. […] He played his first match for Iran in 2005, and has featured in Iran’s national squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2007 and 2011 Asian Cups. He has played a total of 74 international matches, scoring 8 times. Ref: wikipedia.org