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Mohammad Ali Karimi Pashaki ( , born on 8 November 1978) is an Iranianmarker professional footballer, who playes as a midfielder. He Currently plays for Iran Pro League's Steel Azin. He was the Asian Player of the Year in 2004. He is often referred to as the "Asian Maradona" and is believed to be one of Asia's greatest players. In 2009, the Iranianmarker government forced his national duty retirement.

Club career

Ali Karimi started his career in Fath Football Club and experienced significant improvement during the time he was playing for Persepolis football club.He finished Third Twice with Persepolis F.C. in Asian Club Championship. His good performance for Persepolis and the national side against Asian powerhouses in the World Cup 2002 qualifications, lead to serious interest from the Spanishmarker side, Atlético Madrid, among other European clubs. However, Karimi chose to play in the UAEmarker instead, because according to him he wanted to stay close to Iranmarker. He is one of the best dribblers in Asia. His skills are often compared to those of Diego Maradona and therefore received the title of Asian Maradona from world newspapers.

Bayern Munich

On 3 May 2005, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich's website announced that they signed a one year contract with Ali Karimi who becomes the third Iranian after Ali Daei and Vahid Hashemian to try his luck with Bayern.

Despite initial skepticism with regards to Karimi's physical aptitude and fan feelings that his transfer was nothing but a marketing ploy, Karimi did not waste any time in proving his critics wrong. On 14 August 2005, Karimi made his starting debut for Bayern when Felix Magath put him on the starting line-up of a 5-2 victory against Bayer Leverkusen on the second day of Bundesliga. Karimi's assist to Roy Makaay for Bayern's second goal followed by his first goal of Bundesliga capped a great performance that earned him a spot on Kicker's team of the week. Karimi then built on his success by scoring on his first UEFA Champions League appearance against Rapid Vienna on 22 November 2005.

As his play and form improved, Karimi was rewarded with more regular starts as well as more playing time as a regular substitute, not a small feat with a midfield featuring Michael Ballack, Sebastian Deisler, Martin Demichelis, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Hasan Salihamidzic, Owen Hargreaves, Mehmet Scholl and Ze Roberto. Due to his finesse, playmaking skills and versatility, he was seen as a great asset by the club and following his 25th appearance, his contract was extended by another year. Unfortunately, soon after, on 4 March 2006 in the game against Hamburg, Karimi severely injured his thigh which sidelined him for 6 weeks. The injury coming so close to the World Cup, clearly effected Karimi, as he was unfit and ineffective throughout the tournament.

The departure of Michael Ballack for Chelsea before the start of 2006–07 season, created an opportunity to allow Karimi to compete for a regular starting position; however, the injury he had received in 2006, made him inactive throughout the preseason. His lack of form that followed, then prevented him from playing in the first game of the Ligapokal against Schalke 04, but he was given the opportunity to start the next Ligapokal game against Werder Bremen. During the first half of 2006/2007 season, Karimi continued to compete for a starting role with Bayern; however, he was not able to impress Magath, who then reduced Karimi's caps in the Bundesliga and Champions League. In the meantime, Bayern's poor performance throughout the season, resulted in the replacement of Felix Magath by Ottmar Hitzfeld at the end of January 2007. Under Hitzfeld, it was clear that Bayern wished to pursue other options, and Karimi would not be re-signed. As Karimi's contract with Bayern drew close to expiration, there were only a handful of offers for him and most of these were from smaller clubs (including bids from Red Bull Salzburg, which he turned down twice) or clubs such as Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli, Karimi's former club. There were also rumors that Wolfsburgmarker, Galatasaray SK and other European clubs would pursue him in the offseason; however, these rumors proved to be untrue. On 29 May 2007 Bayern Munich announced Karimi would be leaving the club, though his new club was not yet known.

Qatar SC

On 3 July 2007, Karimi announced that he had signed a two-year deal with Qatar Sports Club. Karimi was believed to have put pen to a contract worth around £3.2 million, with a clause allowing him to return to Europe at any time.

After Karimi's first season with Qatar SC, many questioned his future with the club, despite his impressive on field performances. His future with Qatar seems in more doubt with the 2004 Asian Player of the Year receiving many offers from Saudi Arabian, UAE, Iranian and Australian clubs.


On 10 July 2008, Karimi agreed to play the remainder of his 2 year contract for Al-Sailiya worth around £4.7 million.


According to Persepolis officials, "The Reds" have paid $350,000 to Qatar’s Olympic Committee to sign Karimi on a season-long loan. Karimi’s reported monthly salary is in the region of $8,000 a month.

After his return to Persepolis Karimi was obviously a starter on the team and he scored his first goal just two weeks after his return in the most popular match of the season in the Tehran derby. In games that he missed because of injuries, Persepolis had problems on the field but when he was there, the team did really well. His most memorable matches during the 2008/09 season were both games against Esteghlal, second leg match against Paykan and also many matches in the AFC Champions League. Adel Ferdosipour who is a popular soccer commentator in Iran mentioned during the game against Bunyodkor that when Karimi gets himself going, then Persepolis will get going. Despite his great matches he had some problems with Persepolis' chairman Abbas Ansarifard and it's been said that he will not play for Persepolis during the 2009/10 season. Karimi later signed with Steel Azin F.C.

Club career statistics


Persepolis Statistics

International career

Karimi made his debute for Iran national football teamin October 1998 in a match against Kuwait. That same year, he won the Gold Medalwith Iran at the 1998 Asian Games. He was also one of Iran's main players in its 2002 FIFA World Cup qualificationcampaign.

Ali Karimi performed well at the 2004Asian Cup, where he tied for most goals scored with five. Iran finished third in the overall tournament, behind Japanand China. Due to his strong performance during this tournament, Karimi was given the prestigious Asian Player of the Yearaward, joining his fellow Iranians, Mehdi Mahdavikiain 2003, Ali Daeiin 1999, and Khodadad Aziziin 1996. He also won the 2004 West Asian Football Federation Championshipwith Team Melli.

He is generally regarded as one of the best players in Iranmarker, along with the Frankfurt rocket, Mehdi Mahdavikia, and Javad Nekounam of Osasuna.He showcased his skills in the Iran-Germany friendly game for Bam victims held in Azadi Stadiummarker in Tehranmarker in October 2004.

Coming off a serious thigh injury, Karimi had a wretched World Cup finals at Germany 2006, with many commentators singling him out as one of the key players who had failed to perform in the tournament. Short on fitness and form, he was unable to exert much influence on proceedings as the Iranians lost 1-3 to Mexicoand 0-2 to Portugal. He was substituted in the second half of the Portugal game, and did not play in the 1-1 draw against Angola. Some argue that this was due to his protest to being substituted in the prior match, but Branko Ivankovic(Iran's manager at the time) and other members of the coaching staff have stated that Karimi was asked to go in as a substitute which he refused.

He also played in 2007 Asian Cupbut did not perform as well as before.As of January 2008, he has 105 caps(2nd highest) and has scored 35 goals (3rd highest) for Team Melli.

In May 2008, Karimi was banned from playing in the national team after he made numerous criticisms towards the IRIFFin the Ardebil training ground, but has been reinstated in the national squad after intervention from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadand Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In October 2008, Karimi retired from Team Melli. This decision has upset many Iranian football fans. In February 2009, Karimi announced that he is ready again to serve his country, if he was to be picked by Team Melli coach, Afshin Ghotbi.

He played in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualificationfor Team Melliand on 10 June 2009 Karimi scored in a 1-0 victory over U.A.E. to keep Iran`s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying hopes alive.

International goals

Awards and honours


  • Appearances and Goals: 2006 (0)
1998–99 Persepolis Azadegan League 13 3 ? 0 - - ? 3
1999–00 15 3 ? 0 9 4 ? 7
2000–01 15 5 ? 0 4 1 ? 6

2001-02 Al-Ahli UAE League ? 14 ? 6 - - ? 20
2002–03 13 5 ? 1 - - ? 6
2003-04 16 15 ? ? - - ? ?
2004–05 ? 10 ? ? ? 2 ? ?

2005–06 Bayern Munich Bundesliga 20 2 2 0 3 1 25 3
2006–07 13 1 0 0 2 0 15 1

2007–08 Qatar Qatari League 27 5 ? 0 - - ? 5
2008–09 Persepolis Persian Gulf Cup 21 5 1 0 6 2 28 7
2009–10 Steel Azin 13 10 0 0 - - 13 10
Ali Karimi's Statistics in Persepolis
Season Team Country Division Apps Goals
1998–99 Persepolis 1 13 3
1999–00 Persepolis 1 15 3
2000–01 Persepolis 1 15 5
2008–09 Persepolis 1 21 5
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 19 December 1998 Bangkok,Thailand 2-0 Win 1998 Asian Games
2 9 April 2000 Tehran,Iran 3-0 Win 2000 AFC Asian Cup qualification
3 24 May 2000 Amman,Jordan 3-0 Win 2000 WAFF
4 24 May 2000 Amman,Jordan 3-0 Win 2000 WAFF
5 28 May 2000 Amman,Jordan 1-0 Win 2000 WAFF
6 31 May 2000 Amman,Jordan 1-0 Win 2000 WAFF
7 24 November 2000 Tabriz,Iran 19-0 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
8 24 November 2000 Tabriz,Iran 19-0 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
9 24 November 2000 Tabriz,Iran 19-0 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
10 24 November 2000 Tabriz,Iran 19-0 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
11 10 August 2001 Tehran,Iran 4-0 Win Friendly
12 15 August 2001 Bratislava,Slovakia 4-3 Win Friendly
13 15 August 2001 Bratislava,Slovakia 4-3 Win Friendly
14 15 August 2001 Bratislava,Slovakia 4-3 Win Friendly
15 7 September 2001 Baghdad,Iraq 2-1 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
16 12 October 2001 Tehran, Iran 2-1 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
17 6 February 2002 Tehran,Iran 2-3 Lose Friendly
18 6 February 2002 Tehran,Iran 2-3 Lose Friendly
19 11 August 2002 Tabriz,Iran 1-1 Draw Friendly
20 3 September 2002 Damascus,Syria 2-0 Win 2002 WAFF
21 12 October 2003 Tehran,Iran 3-0 Win AFC/OFC Cup Challenge
22 12 October 2003 Tehran,Iran 3-0 Win AFC/OFC Cup Challenge
23 27 October 2003 Pyongyang,North Korea 3-1 Win 2004 AFC Asian Cup qualification
24 27 October 2003 Pyongyang,North Korea 3-1 Win 2004 AFC Asian Cup qualification
25 21 June 2004 Tehran,Iran 7-1 Win 2004 WAFF
26 25 June 2004 Tehran,Iran 4-1 Win 2004 WAFF
27 24 July 2004 Chongqing,China 2-2 Draw 2004 AFC Asian Cup
28 31 July 2004 Shandong,China 4-3 Win 2004 AFC Asian Cup
29 31 July 2004 Shandong,China 4-3 Win 2004 AFC Asian Cup
30 31 July 2004 Shandong,China 4-3 Win 2004 AFC Asian Cup
31 6 August 2004 Beijing,China 4-2 Win 2004 AFC Asian Cup
32 30 January 2006 Tehran,Iran 3-2 Win Friendly
33 28 May 2006 Osijek, Croatia 2-2 Draw Friendly
34 11 October 2006 Taipei, Chinese Taipei 2-0 Win 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualification
35 11 October 2006 Taipei, Chinese Taipei 2-0 Win 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualification
36 10 June 2009 Tehran, Iran 1-0 Win 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification

  • AFC Asian Cup
    • Appearances and goals: 2004 (Third Place) (5), 2007 (Quarter final)


  • Azadegan League
    • Winner: 2
      • 1998/99 with Persepolis
      • 1999/00 with Persepolis
    • Runner up: 1
      • 2000/01 with Persepolis

  • UAE Cup: 2
    • 2001/02, Al-Ahli
    • 2003/04, Al-Ahli



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