Cracker of a goal, Mr. Football
Unknown to many, Azkals star Misagh Bahadoran started his career with the national team on the same day he was supposed to receive his dentistry degree.
Five years ago, Bahadoran skipped the graduation rite to attend the Azkals tryouts at Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa, where he was one of the two players picked by then Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss from an original pool of 50 players.
For Bahadoran, this was just a small sacrifice as he tried to make up for lost time. He had long wanted to be part of the Azkals but kept his promise to his parents to get his degree first before taking his football career to the next level.
The decision illustrates two sides of Bahadoran—a loyal and obedient son and a competitor willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success on the pitch.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, getting a diploma,” he recalls. “But that session helped me get into the national team, so the sacrifice was worth it.”
Bahadoran, who plays club football for Global FC, has gone on to represent the country 51 times. He’s been the country’s top scorer the past two years before he was sidelined by a knee injury in a recent match against Malaysia.
A late bloomer in the sport, he only went full-time six years ago after initially representing the country in futsal (indoor football). “I’m six years behind in my career as a football player,” laments the 30-year-old, who was born in Mabalacat, Pampanga, to an Iranian father and a Filipino mother.
As big as football was in Iran, where he spent most of his childhood and teenage years, Bahadoran didn’t join a club at youth level. Instead, he played on the streets alongside older brother Ali, who was then part of Tehran-based Esteghlal’s youth team. His career cut short by an injury, Ali hasn’t even watched any of Misagh’s games.
A pro football career was a long shot for Misagh when he moved back to the Philippines at age 17. But as soon as he started playing futsal at Centro Escolar University, Bahadoran’s talent looked undeniable. He won almost every title and individual award on his way to being selected for the national futsal team.
Bahadoran found his way to Global FC in the United Football League. Ever since he joined the club in 2010, Bahadoran has helped the team win almost every available trophy in the country, winning the UFL League twice and the UFL Cup three times. Bahadoran is the only Filipino to score in the AFC Cup and AFC Champions League.
Early this year, the Global skipper was also awarded Mr. Football by the Philippine Sportswriters Association.
Winning fuels Bahadoran, but he’s aware he can rub people the wrong way with his intensity. “I know some players, even my teammates, may not like me,” he says. “But what’s important is I play hard every game. I tell everybody to play like it’s their last game. You have to fight like a solider. I have this pride that I can’t allow people to take what is mine, that’s why I want to win.”
This mentality has served Bahadoran well. But he also knows his career in the sport is only temporary. “As a professional athlete you have to accept the reality,” he says. “Football is not big enough [here] to support the family and since I love the Philippines and I value loyalty, I didn’t take on offers to play overseas with other clubs.”
The death of his father Mostafa due to a lingering illness caught Bahadoran off-guard late last year. But more than his football, Bahadoran knew his father was prouder of the fact that he opened his own clinic, Global Dental Clinic, early this year in Makati. “Dentistry is also my passion,” he shares. “My dad’s dream for me was to own a clinic. He told me he didn’t want my six years of studying dentistry go to waste.”
Bahadoran says his relationship with model-actress Sam Pinto helped him cope with the loss. Bahadoran met Pinto in a promotional event two years ago and the pair immediately hit it off.
For all his success, Bahadoran still believes he has more to prove. “I still have more to achieve,” he says.
At the rate things are going, there’s no reason to doubt Bahadoran’s devotion to reach his life goals.
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