It was June 14, 1970 and the entire Iranian nation was glued to their TV’s watching the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Mexico. Satellite ground station in Asad Abad, Hamedan was installed the year before and for the first time we could watch the international events like the moon landing or the World Cup live in our living rooms.
In Leon, Mexico, in a rematch of 1966 World Cup final, England was playing West Germany. The German stars like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerhardt Muller, Uwe Seeler and Overath were household names in Iran and had a large following. In the TV studio, Mr. Roshanzadeh and Mr. Behmanesh were providing the play-by-play, while a young and relatively unknown Manook Khodabakhshian chimed in with expert analysis.
Fifty minutes into the match, the English were comfortably ahead 2-0 and the German offence was completely ineffective. At that point, Manook expressed his opinion that the German coach Helmut Schoen should bring in Jurgen Grabowski to get the offence moving. To our utmost surprise, a few minutes later, Grabowski was standing on the sideline ready to come in. It was as if Manook had taken over the management of the Germans. Within minutes with his speed and skills, Grabowski brought life to the German offence. Franz Beckenbauer scored for the Germans, Seeler tied the game, and Gerd Muller scored the winner in the overtime and with the 3-2 victory, the Germans advanced to the semis.
The next morning, the news in Iran was about Germany’s incredible comeback and more importantly about the genius of Manook Khodabakhshian who had predicted the right course of action for the Germans. Overnight, Manook became a clairvoyant and a national figure of immense stature.
Over the years, Manook had many original expressions, the most famous of which was:
این تیم دیگه حرفی برای گفتن نداره
Rest in Peace Manook