Ali Karimi

Ali Karimi 2015 Mohammad Ali Karimi ( ; born 8 November 1978) is an Iranian football coach and former professional footballer. During his professional football career, he has played as a playmaker in the Iran Pro League, UAE Pro League, Qatar Stars League and Bundesliga. Karimi has scored 38 goals in 127 matches for the Iran national team. In 2004, he was recognized as the best scorer of the AFC Asian Cup and received the Asian Footballer of the Year award in the same year. He announced his retirement at the end of the 2013–14 season and, on 11 April 2014, played the final game of his 18-year career.

Karimi's professional career began with Fath Tehran, where he made his first-team debut in 1996, aged 18. He then played three seasons with Persepolis, winning the Iranian league twice and the Hazfi Cup once with the club. In July 2001, Karimi signed a two-year contract with UAE Pro League club Al-Ahli Dubai. While an Al-Ahli player, Karimi won two cup titles, and was the top goalscorer in the 2003–04 season, an impressive feat for a midfielder. After leaving the club in 2005 aged 26, Karimi made a long-awaited move to Europe to play for Bayern Munich. At the club, he had relative success, winning both the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal in 2005–06 season. Later in his career, he rejoined former coach Felix Magath and won a second German Cup with Schalke 04. Karimi ended his playing career in Iran with Persepolis and Tractor Sazi, and with the latter won the Hazfi Cup in the final season of his career.

In international football, Karimi made his Iran debut on 13 October 1998 at the age of 19. He made 127 career appearances in total, appearing at five major tournaments, including 1998 Asian Games, 2000, 2004, and 2007 Asian Cups and 2006 FIFA World Cup. Renowned for his on-the-ball skill, dribbling runs and playmaking ability, he was often referred to as the ''Asian Maradona'' and ''The Magician''. In the video introducing Iran's national football team in the 2018 World Cup, by FIFA, he was described as "One of the top 2 players of Iran's football history". He is regarded as one of the greatest Asian footballers of all time. In 2017, AFC named Karimi as "one of the icons of Asian football history".

Karimi is known as one of the most popular athletes in the history of Iran. In April 2015, he was recognized as Iran's most popular football player (from 1991 to 2015) in a poll by ''Navad'' television program. Provided by Wikipedia
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