The new signing from Russia will most probably soon provide a first under the Bayer Cross: There has never been an Iranian in Black and Red in a Bundesliga match since Bayer 04 were promoted to Germany's top flight in 1979.
Three fellow countrymen of Sardar Azmoun have been in Werkself squads since then: Mehdi Pashazadeh 07/1998 to 12/2000), Dariush Yazdani (01 to 07/1999) plus Seyed Ali Mousavi (07 to 12/2000). However, none of the trio played in the Bundesliga. Pashazadeh played for the Black and Reds once in the DFB Cup and once in the UEFA Cup, Yazdani played in the league cup once.
It is logical to assume the fourth Iranian at Leverkusen since 1979 will not go without Bundesliga appearances. "Sardar Azmoun is very quick, good in the air and has a great sense of space. He's not just a goalscorer but he also provides a lot of assists and fits in brilliantly with the Werkself as a player who combines well," said sporting managing director Rudi Völler following the signing of the Iranian striker. In addition to his qualities on the pitch, the 1.86-metre tall player also has great experience.
Azmoun spend the whole of his youth in his home country of Iran with the last two and a half years in the youth section at the top club Sepahan FC. On 1 January 2013 – on the day of his 18th birthday – the forward finally moved abroad. Rubin Kazan, a club in south-west Russia, was his destination. The move proved to be a great success: On the Volga, the Iranian talent developed into an established player thanks also to a loan spell at FK Rostov.
The league rivals signed Azmoun but Kazan brought their former player back a year later in the summer of 2017. He kept up his goalscoring – and the top Russian club from St Petersburg made him an offer that the Iranian could hardly refuse with the prospect of triumphs and titles.
As expected, Azmoun also proved successful as a goal-getter in the port on the Baltic. In the following three years at Zenit, he repaid the confidence shown in him with goals and assists: In 104 matches, he scored 62 goals and provided 36 assists. Including his five years at Kazan and Rostov, his record in the top Russian league is: 208 games, 85 goals and 38 assists.
No wonder that Azmoun's trophy cabinet is not only full of team titles (three Russian league titles, one Russian cup win, two Russian super cups). In 2019/20, the striker was the top scorer in the Premier Liga with 17 goals and in 2021 he was voted Russia's Player of the Year.
Back home in Iran, the new Leverkusen signing is without doubt one of the most famous players of all time. After numerous games for the national youth teams, where he scored more than one goal per game on average, Azmoun made his full international debut on 26 May 2014.
He has gone on to play another 59 games for Iran with a goals tally of 39. No other player has scored more often for the national team as the new Werkself forward – except for one who up to last year was way ahead of anybody in the world with his number of international goals.
That man is Ali Daei. The Iranian striker legend played in Germany at club level from 1997 to 2002 (Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich, Hertha Berlin). The now 52-year-old set records at international level: Daei scored an impressive 109 goals for Iran – more than any other international player before. That number was considered to be uncatchable until Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed it last year.
Sardar Azmoun will probably not get close to Daei's total of goals. But he is certain of going into the Bayer 04 Bundesliga record books with his first appearance in the top-flight for the Werkself. And the ambitious striker will give all he can in the coming years to make sure Black and Red fans remember his performances...
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