INTERVIEW: Former Iran international Vahid Hashemian sets out on coaching career

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VfL Bochum v VfL Wolfsburg - Bundesliga

Striker spent most of his career in the Bundesliga and was part of ’s squad for the 2006 World Cup with 50 total appearances for Team Melli. Since his retirement, the 38-year-old has dedicated himself to coaching and is on the verge of acquiring the Pro License that will allow him to coach a Bundesliga team. He was recently seen with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich’s team training. Football Channel Asia’s Niloufar Momeni spoke with Hashemian about his future career path and the state of football in .

  • What have you been up to since retiring?

I’m in process of passing “Coaching Pro License” program in . The duration of the program is 10 months. I have to serve three internships during this program. We can choose the teams if we want, otherwise the German Football Federation (DFB) can assign us a team. These clubs need to be in ’s first or second divisions.

  • Your website showed you at Bayern Munich training under Pep Guardiola. Tell us about that experience. How was Guardiola’s team management approach?

I’m not allowed to disclose what I’ve seen in training sessions, but of course it was a pleasure meeting him. I have played under several German coaches before, but Bayern Munich have the best players and and they hire the best managers in world. In terms of Pep’s personality, he is very charming and down to earth.

  • You left SV Halsenbeck and Niendorfer after short spells even though you achieved good results.What was the reason for that?

I was at Halsenbeck for half a season, and they were unbeaten under my management. Last season, I was in charge of Niendorfer SV. Prior to my arrival, they had conceded 63 goals. During my reign, they recorded the best defense in the league. But the experience of coaching a fifth-division side was enough for me. I needed several months to prepare myself for the Pro License. Even after the initial stage of getting your license, it’s challenging to manage a team. Some interns chose to do that but they often struggle.

As it stands, now I can manage anywhere, including Iran. But Germany has some of the toughest criteria in the world for professional coaches.

  • What is your goal after your UEFA Pro license: returning to Iran or managing a team in Europe?

Coaching is different from playing. Football players are in much more demand, whereas coaches don’t have many options. My main goal has been to get my Pro License. My experience and passion for the game are as a player, but that experience means nothing without accreditation. As for my career, my family is my first choice and coaching is second.

  • As you have heard, Carlos Queiroz recently extended his contract with Iran’s national team and appointed [former Iran international] Ali Karimi as his assistant. There has been lots of debate over Karimi’s appointment; some support the idea of young former players such as yourself gaining coaching experienced, others are against it because Karimi doesn’t have a coaching license. What are your thoughts about this appointment?

If I were to select, I could comment on it. but I did not make the decision. The selection should be young as long as they have appropriate knowledge as well.

  • You have managed team at the 3. Liga level before. Do assistant managers in Germany need to be licensed?

Yes, the top four divisions in Germany require coaching licenses.

  • What is the assistant manager’s role in in a club? Do they provide advice and insight to the manager, or they are there to learn about coaching?

I actually have an anecdote about that. A few weeks ago,  Miroslov Klose suggested to the DFB that national team stars be automatically given a Pro License. The federation dismissed it out of hand; they said, “[Coaches] need to learn for 10 months. Accreditation is more important.” That’s the way it works in Germany.

In general, learning on the job occurs less often in the Bundesliga. The coaching style is different for each coach. There are some coaches who take care of everything and assistant coaches just implement. There are other coaches who simply lead the teams but not the club, they control the tactical aspect, but assistant coaches manage the training.

  • As someone who has coached in the Bundesliga, and understands their level of coaching, how do you rate Iranian coaches’ knowledge/tactics in comparison?

I don’t know all Iranian coaches so I can’t comment on all of them. If they have good training, good facilities and work with big coaches, our coaches can improve. They are bright. In terms of training we are poor. Talent can only improve so much under limited capacity and knowledge.

  • What did you think of Team Melli’s performance at the World Cup? Were you satisfied with their results?

We need to pack those results away and talk about future instead.

  • How do you foresee Iran’s chances in the upcoming Asian Cup 2015?

At the World Cup, Iran defended well but were weak on offense. If they can improve their attacking strategy, they can get results.

  • You finished your playing career with Persepolis in the Iran Pro league. As you’re aware, the club’s recent years have been incredibly unstable. Would you take a coaching position at Persepolis if it were offered, or would you prefer to coach a smaller Iranian club?

Because it has not happened yet and I have not been offered, I cannot comment.

  • Finally, Iran’s Olympic team were eliminated from the Asian Games by Vietnam. Are you concerned about a potential lack of investment in Iran’s youth system? What do you think about the future of Iranian football? 

I have not been to Iran in a long time. I think we are talented in football. But our problem is organization and good coaches to nourish the players.We’ve struggled at the Olympic level for over three decades; if the team’s manager was Iranian he would have been executed by now.

Germany, for example, made significant investments in their youth system beginning in 2006. We could accomplish results in Iran if we did similarly.