From 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil:
First internationalJordan - Iran 30 May 2000
Date of Birth07 Sep 1980
Current clubKuwait SC (KUW)
According to Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, Javad Nekounam "has been playing a key educational role" in his transitional side. It is, indeed, a tribute the 33-year-old midfielder more than deserves, considering his status as the squad's most experienced player.
The Team Melli captain is Iran's second most capped player in history with 136 international appearances, trailing only legendary goal-king Ali Daei's 149. Since making his national team debut against Syria in a friendly in May 2000, he went on to impress in Iran's opening two matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. Although he was suspended for the closing group match and his side failed to progress to the second round, his eye-catching displays earned him a high-profile move to Osasuna. During six years with the Spanish La Liga side Nekounam established his place as one of Iran’s most successful overseas-based players. That, allied with his consistent performances with the national team, saw him inherit the captain’s armband from the talismanic Mehdi Mahdavikia in 2009.
Deployed as a central midfielder, Nekounam plays a key role in both Iran’s defence and attack. Aside from dealing with rival offences, he has always been at the centre of Iran’s more positive intentions, with his tally of 37 international goals making him the current squad’s top marksman.
While steering Iran to their fourth global appearance, Nekounam maintained no-less-impressive form during Team Melli’s qualifying for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. He finished as the tournament's second top-marksman as Iran sealed progression to the continental finals. Recently he has been found excelling with his new club Al Kuwait, scoring five times in just 12 appearances.
With the maestro in his best shape, Iran can at least harbour their own share of hopes of progression from a tough group which also features Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria.
Photo from here.