John Toshack is touched by the story of Amir Nasr-Azadani, the Iranian footballer who faces the possibility of execution in his country for defending women’s rights. Nasr-Azadani has been accused of being involved in the death of three security officers during protests in the city of Esfahan.

Toshack coached Iranian side Tractor Sazi for a few weeks in the 2018/19 season, when their squad included a very young Amir.

“I remember the squad was big and we had a lot of youngsters, but it was interesting because they were all eager to learn and progress,” Toshack told MARCA. “Amir was one of them, but he had a knee injury and was still recovering when we arrived.

“It’s an outrageous thing to do. He has to be released. Women and men are equal.”

Toshack arrived in Iran with his assistant coach Alexis Plaza, who was taken by surprise when news broke about Nasr-Azadani facing the death penalty.

“It can’t be true. It’s unbelievable,” Plaza said.

“I started to hear from our friends there and I couldn’t believe that Amir was sentenced.

“I had to go every day for rehabilitation because of a problem with my elbow and there was Amir, recovering from a knee [injury].

“He was a perfectly normal kid. How could he be a terrorist? How could he kill three policemen? That can’t be [true].”
A different way of life

Toshack and Alexis recall that Nasr-Azadani went through a stressful situation while the two men were in charge of the team.

“He had lost someone in his family and, because of the stress, he lost his hair,” they noted.

“We were a bit shocked when we saw such a young kid taking off his toupee in the dressing room.”

Plaza, who noted that young people are pushing for a change in Iran, shared an anecdote from when they were summoned to the police station because they were wearing shorts.

“It’s a country with potential,” Plaza added.

“Young people want a change but they clash with the traditional.

“John and I experienced a funny situation. Someone reported us for wearing shorts on the street and we were summoned to a police station.

“When we got there, all the policemen greeted us and asked us for pictures. As we went up the stairs, the atmosphere became more and more tense.

“Then we got to the top, to the captain’s office, who greeted us loudly and rudely because wearing shorts is associated with homosexuality.”

Plaza went on to praise Amir’s attitude in training and revealed that their team have no news about his whereabouts.

“It’s just unbelievable. I was shocked,” Plaza declared.

“In other teams, in a dressing room, you can track down the troublemakers. Amir was a hard worker and very calm.

“I spoke yesterday with the team’s translator and they don’t know anything. The government has hidden him. I don’t even want to think about what he’s going through”.

Source » marca