Publish date:

31 IRAN

Author:

Because ...

EVERY GAME'S A COMING-OUT PARTY

Soccer in one of the world's oldest civilizations is evolving—and finally we can watch it happen. In 1998, insular Iran brought only three foreign-based players to the World Cup. In 2006, seven. This year they have 14 men based abroad. The most exciting: AZ Alkmaar winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who led the Eredivisie with 21 goals in '17--18. He's fast, dynamic, speaks fluent English and, at 24, has the potential to lead Team Melli out of the shadows.