On 11th day of Dey month in the year 1373 Sardar Azmoun came into the world in a city called Gonbad-e-Kavus. We are not speaking about a medieval knight – the date of birth is under Persian Calendar (Solar Hijri) and corresponds to 1st January 1995 – at least about an excellent horsemen since he has got six horses that habitually rides: the Iranian young talent was born in Golestan Province, around 50 km far from Turkmenistan border, known by Alexander the Great as Hyrcania, the Greek form of Gorgan (the current capital of the province). Most of the people that inhabit this land are Iranians of Turkmen ethnicity, like Azmoun: Turkmens speak a Turkic language and traditionally are well-known for horseback riding and carpets; in celebrations you can recognize them from their folkloric dress and songs: during an Iranian TV program, called Khanevadeh (Family in Persian), Azmoun confirmed his social identity singing a song in Turkmen.
Sardar is an Iranic word that literally means “he who heads” i.e. leader, to indicate a noble or military rank, and as a proper noun is common in Central Asia with little variations: like Sardor Rashidov, playmaker of Uzbekistan national football team in the Group A of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, an opponent of Team Melli (nickname of Iran squad).
The surname Azmoun in Persian means “test, exam”, and maybe this is the reason of the changes that affected the young “leader” not only in football, but in volleyball too, until the continuous rumours of scouting by biggest European clubs. During a show in the most popular Iranian TV program about football, Navad (Ninety in Persian, like the minutes of a match), Sardar declared that as a child he played volleyball like his dad Khalil.
At the age of 13 he was omitted from a youth national camp, so he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps: the boy in a couple of years gained a call-up for Iran national volleyball youth team thanks to the strict education received by Khalil Azmoun, who has been coaching various volleyball clubs and also Iranian national youth sector squads.
Don’t be surprised by the “football+volleyball” combo, because both sports are very common in Iran: Argentinian coach Julio Velasco in few years lead volleyball Team Melli to win two Asian Championship and his successors reached World League and Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. At the age of 15, it seemed that Sardar would start a career as volleyball player, but he was called up by his former coach for a provincial tournament: since that day he has no more abandoned football pitches; despite he had previously played as goalkeeper and defender, he has become one of the most promising Asian strikers.
Many journalists referred to him as the “Iranian Messi”, but the youngster prefers rather to be compared to Ibrahimovic: he shorter than Zlatan, but volleyball helped him to develop a great elevation.
According to Sardar a true legend is Ali Daei, Iranian of Azeri ethnicity, that still remains the all-time leading international goalscorer: he was the first Asian player to take part to UEFA Champions League and in 1999/2000 edition he scored for Hertha Berlin a double against Chelsea and a goal against AC Milan at San Siro Stadium.
From U19 Sepahan Esfahan side to U20 Iran national under-20 football team it was a short step for Sardar, but for him the best was yet to come. At 18 Azmoun was noticed by Rubin Kazan and Inter Milan scouts during a tournament in St.Petersburg, Russia.
According to Iranian jounalist Adel Ferdosipour Sardar decided to join Tatars because the coach of Tatarstan-based side was Turkmen Kurban Berdyev, who later would want the talent from Golestan in Rostov.
I hadn’t the chance to play in Iran first division because Sepahan treated me so bad: they didn’t play me, I fell behind with my rent, so I came back home in Gonbad-e-Kavus. I didn’t join Inter Milan because I had already a comittment with Rubin.
I didn’t choose it for money, because for me it was a good occasion to improve.
Azmoun said during his first season in Russia. Sardar added also that he picked up t-shirt number 69 because that was also the number of vehicle regional code of Golestan area. On 29th August 2013, in his second match for Rubin Kazan Azmoun scored during play-off round against Norwegian side Molde FK. He played 14 matches scoring 4 goals and providing 3 assists in Russian Premier League. Thanks to these good performances Sardar was included in the first 30-man squad for 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
In Brazil Azmoun wouldn’t play prompting criticism of Team Melli fans’ against national team coach Carlos Queiroz: Sardar reacted clearly posting on social networks that his exclusion from World Cup squad caused
The worst day in my life.”
He wished also good to Iran national team hoping to be part of it in 2018. On the contrary Azmoun‘s father reaction was really polemic declaring to Iranian media that
no one is better than my son.”
Fortunately Sardar‘s father outburst hadn’t any effect on son’s career as national team player. Queiroz relied on him for 2015 Asian Cup. During that competition he scored a wonderful goal against Qatar in the group stage, compared with that scored by Arsenal talent Dennis Bergkamp against Newcastle in Premier League in 2002.
The same club coached by Arsene Wenger is one of the teams alongside Everton, Juventus, Barcelona and also Liverpool that could sign the talented forward.
In a interview published in 2014 on Iranian newspaper Varzeshi Iran Azmoun said that CEO of AC Milan Adriano Galliani had contacted him because he considered him a possible substitute of Kakà.
After AFC Asian Cup elimination Azmoun went on loan to FC Rubin Kazan coached by his mentor Berdyev, helping the team to avoid relegation in Russian Premier League. With Selmashi team he reached the second place in the league, two points fewer than CSKA Moscow earning Champions League qualification. Other facts are recent: he scored decisive goals in the Champions League preliminary rounds against Anderlecht and Ajax (alongside his fellow countryman Saeid Ezzatollahi) making history on 1st November 2016 scoring the equalising goal against Atletico Madrid. It was the first one conceded by Diego Pablo Simeone‘s side in this Champions League campaign. And on 23rd November he has made history again with a goal in the surprising Rostov victory over Bayern Munich.