This article also featured as part of the GFFN 100 for 2018
Selling mobile phones was was not the career Saman Ghoddos had in mind. In 2013, his club, Swedish third tier outfit Trelleborgs, failed in a promotion attempt as their Iranian forward sat falorn on the bench. “It did not go well.” Ghoddos recounted to 11 Amienois. “At the end of my contract my parents told me: ‘you have to get a job.’ I became a phone seller. I was not very good, I only thought about football. I told myself ‘this is not the life for me’.”
After contacting a former coach Ghoddos landed a trial with second division Syrianska, a last chance as failure would mean “stopping football and finding something else.” Ghoddos, however, impressed and was offered a permanent deal. Two seasons in the Superettan prompted interest from Allsvenska newcomers, Ostersunds.
There the young forward flourished under English coach Graham Potter, recording 42 goals in 93 games as the fledgling Northern club, founded as recently as 1996, confounded expectations to force their way into the Europa League and a now famous knockout tie with Arsenal. “Ghoddos is a marvellous player. Technically and tactically, I was impressed.” said Arsene Wenger after Ghoddos inspired a momentous win at the Emirates, although Ostersunds exited on aggregate.
Ghoddos’ zenith to date came in Russia this summer. Despite being born and playing his entire career in Sweden he rejected their advances in favour of his Iranian heritage, making Carlos Queiroz’s World Cup 23. Game time was limited but Ghoddos appeared in each group game as a sub, “a great honour” says the 25 year old.
Excitement surrounding Ghoddos had been building for some time and it was clear, after Russia, a move was inevitable. Contact came from Spain, England and a number of French club, Amiens eventually beating Rennes to his signature. “This is the perfect club for me. My ambition and that of the club’s fit perfectly together, I was want to win here, help the club, and the club can help me.”
Although Ghoddos understandably aspires to play for a bigger club, his desire to impress and professionalism have stood out in his first Ligue 1 season, quickly becoming integral to Amiens’ forward line whether playing off the striker, as a lone forward or on the left flank, his versatility and team ethic impressing manager Christophe Pelissier.
Although it took Ghoddos time to completely settle, Pellissier expressing ‘disappointment’ by his display against Caen, the Iranian’s technical ability routinely stood out. Devilish whipped deliveries from dead balls and crossing positions is mirrored by a rasping shot, while an ability to use the ball intelligently, rarely lose possession and pick incisive passes has become pivotal to an often counter attacking side.
However, Ghoddos needs others to play close to him. The absence of partner Moussa Konate of late left him isolated, often frustratedly dropping deep to try and influence the game to little affect. Nevertheless, despite considering quitting football just 5 years ago, Ghoddos can relax, his rise to prominence in 2018 via the Emirates, Russia and Ligue 1 means he won’t have to consider another change in career anytime soon.
by Adam White