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Ali Daei

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Ali Daei (Persian: علی دایی, born March 21, 1969 in Ardabil, Iran) is a retired Iranian football player who currently is manager of Saipa F.C. in Iran's Premier Football League. He is a former member of the Iran national football team, and is the world's all-time leading goalscorer in international matches.

Daei graduated from Sharif University of Technology in Materials Engineering (Metallurgical). Born in Ardabil, he played for his hometown club, Esteghlal Ardabil, when he was 19. His next club was Taxirani F.C. in Tehran, where he played for one season, before joining another Tehrani club, Bank Tejarat FC. He stayed four years with Bank Tejarat, missing out on a chance to play in the J. League due to military service. Daei's fame is attributed mostly to his renowned goal scoring ability. He managed to score frequently for his clubs, although due to the league schedule at the time he did not play many matches per season. His impressive performance at his club finally got results.

He spent two years at Saba Battery, scoring 23 goals, winning the Hazfi Cup and participating in the Asian Champions League. After World Cup 2006 and the arrival of Saba Battery's new manager, Farhad Kazemi, it was announced that he was no longer needed on the team and that his contract would not be renewed. Despite rumors of retirement he signed for another industry linked club from Tehran, Saipa F.C., on August 1, 2006..

Ali Daei joined the exclusive circle of players with a century of caps. In a November 28, 2003 Asian Cup qualifier in Tehran against Lebanon, he scored his 85th international goal, elevating him past Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskás to top the all-time list of scorers in international matches (among men; he trails women's leader Mia Hamm by almost 50 goals). On November 17, 2004, he scored four goals against Laos in a World Cup qualifier, giving him 102 goals and making him the first male player to score 100 goals in international play. As of June 2006, he has 149 caps for Iran, ranked among the top 10 of world's most capped players.

Asides from his great sportsmanship on the pitch, Daei ran many charitable organisations and used a great deal of his money in support of the less fortunate. Today Daei owns his own football jersey manufacturing company called Daei Sport's Wears & Equipments, making sportswear for Iran sporting clubs in various fields and league clubs worldwide. His company also made jerseys for the national team. He has made very significant charitable donations and has made appearances in charitable football matches world-wide (featuring in the World vs. Bosnia match with Roberto Baggio and other football legends). He also appeared in a UNICEF commercial with superstar David Beckham and Madeleine Albright, and has regularly been seen working with the organisation. He is also very famous for being a "gentleman", the name which was given to him even in Germany where he used to play, because of his moderate behaviour.

Daei featured on July 18, 2007 in 90 Minutes for Mandela, a match between the Africa XI and the Rest of World XI to celebrate the birthday of Nelson Mandela. Daei played approximately 70 minutes in the match which ended 3-3.


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