WASHINGTON, October 1, 2013 — Omid Namazi, a former defender with the Washington Diplomats and the Maryland Bays, is featured on the BBC website as an unlikely ambassador helping to bring the United States and Iran a little closer.
Omid Namazi was born to Iranian parents in Utah and now lives in Sewell, N.J. For over the last two years, he has been the assistant coach of the Iranian national soccer team, which recently qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I consider myself a citizen of both the U.S. and Iran,” Namazi told the BBC website.
Huge celebrations across Iran welcomed the team’s qualification after beating South Korea on the road. The win happened just two days after Iran elected new president Hassan Rouhani, who is viewed as a moderate by many in the West and has already spoken with President Barack Obama.
Namazi met the new president after Iran qualified.
“Sports is always a good bridge to close the gap between countries, “ Namazi told the BBC.
Even though he is an American Namzi says he was welcomed by the Iranian people.
“They never looked at me as an American,” he said.
Namazi spent two season with the Diplomats of the American Soccer League from 1988-1989 and played for the Bays from 1990-1991 helping the team win the American Professional Soccer League title. He went on to play for a number of U.S. indoor teams and second division outdoor teams, ending his career with the indoor Cleveland Force in 2005. In 2011 he became assistant coach of the Iran national team supporting head coach Carlos Queiroz, the former MetroStars coach in MLS; Real Madrid coach, and long-time assistant coach at Manchester United.
Namizi lived in Iran from the age of six until he was 18.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
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