Saman Ghoddos Chooses to Play for Team Melli

Saman GhoddosSaman Ghoddos
The 24-year-old midfielder faced a dilemma after he could not make his debut for Iran national team and was called to join the Swedish squad for the World Cup qualification matches

Saman Ghoddos, an Iranian-Swedish soccer player at the Swedish professional football club Ostersund has finally decided to wear the jersey of Iran’s national football team despite being invited to play for Sweden.

The 24-year-old midfielder, whose side Ostersund FK tops the Group J of Europa League, was recently called by Iran’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz to play for Team Melli while he had played in two friendly matches for Sweden and scored a goal, The Iran Front Page news website reported.

In June, Ghoddos said he had been approached by the Iranian federation. In an interview in July, he said he may accept an invitation to play for Carlos Queiroz’s squad.

 Equal Chances

He applied for Iranian citizenship on August 21, stating that it is an honor to play for Sweden and his decision to represent either country is “fifty-fifty”.

He was not called into Sweden’s World Cup qualification squad on August 23, with Janne Andersson, the head coach of Sweden, opting to choose expatriate footballers and stating that Ghoddos is not far from a call-up if he were to remain with the Swedish national team.

On August 25, Ghoddos revealed in an interview that he had taken his Iranian passport from the embassy. The following day, he announced on his Instagram page that he would be joining Iran for their 2018 World Cup qualifiers against South Korea and Syria.

Ghoddos was called up for the first time to attend the Iran senior team training camp on August 27 by Queiroz for the World Cup qualifying matches.

After he couldn’t make his debut for Iran due to administrative issues with FIFA, he was called to join Sweden’s World Cup qualification squad on September 27 for matches against Luxembourg and Netherlands.

 Tough Decision

He told the Swedish side that he will make his decision by Sept. 28. “I need to take a tough decision and it’s better to say the toughest decision in my life. They shocked me,” Ghoddos told Aftonbladet.

However, on September 29, the Swedish Football Association released a statement on their website stating Ghoddos had rejected the offer, choosing to play for Iran instead.

He later told a Swedish website about his decision that he is grateful to Andersson for giving him the extraordinary option, but he has made his final decision and he will play for Iran.

He also wished Sweden success on the road to FIFA World Cup 2018. Andersson also noted that he is very upset about Ghoddos’ decision, but he respects that.

 Persian Blood

Ghoddos had earlier said in an interview with SportExpressen, “I will always love Sweden. I’ve grown up here. It is an honor to live here and to represent Sweden. At the same time, my parents are Iranian. I have Persian blood in my body. I love Iran too.”

Due to his Iranian heritage, Ghoddos was eligible to be called up by both Iran and Sweden. In December 2016, Ghoddos was called up by Sweden manager Janne Andersson for friendlies against Ivory Coast and Slovakia. He scored his first international goal for Sweden in a 6–0 win over Slovakia in January.

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