Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has sent his condolences to the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) and to the family and loved ones of former IR Iran international Mehrdad Minavand who passed away at the age of 45 on Wednesday after contracting COVID-19 last week.
Minavand represented the IR Iran national team at the FIFA World Cup France 1998 and was instrumental in leading Team Melli to their first-ever victory in the global showpiece when they defeated USA 2-1 at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon.
The AFC President said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge in modern history and the Asian football family mourns the loss of a true icon of our great game who unfortunately has left us too soon.
“Mehrdad Minavand served as an inspiration to millions of fans and to so many of today’s generation of players and on behalf of the whole Asian football family, please accept my deepest and heartfelt sympathies on his passing,” added Shaikh Salman.
Minavand also led Team Melli to a third-place finish at the AFC Asian Cup 1996 in the United Arab Emirates. The accomplished midfielder also enjoyed an illustrious club career featuring for Iranian giants Persepolis FC before moving to Austria’s Sturm Graz where he played a key role in leading the club to the Austrian Bundesliga League, Cup and Supercup treble.
The thoughts and prayers of the AFC and the rest of the Asian football community are with the loved ones and friends of Minavand, the FFIRI and the Iranian football family during this difficult time.