Previous Instalments: [Fellaini](https://www.reddit.com/r/soccer/comments/a11s9u/the_mysterious_case_of_marouane_fellaini/) [Murray](https://www.reddit.com/r/soccer/comments/a335du/glenn_murray_world_beater/) [Giroud](https://www.reddit.com/r/soccer/comments/a3urkb/olivier_giroud_quietly_class/) [Crouch](https://pay.reddit.com/r/soccer/comments/a4uho5/peter_crouch_half_man_half_robot/) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Requested by /u/Anglopersian* The list of the highest scoring international players has some amazing names at the top. Messi got 65 for Argentina. Klose netted 71 times for Germany. Pele has 77 goals for Brazil. Puskas got 84 for Hungary. Crisitano Ronaldo has so far managed an amazing 85 for Portugal. Yet none of these are top of the list for international goals. There is a man with 44 more than Messi, 38 more than Klose, 32 more than Pele, 25 ahead of Puskas, and of course 24 over Ronaldo. The worst part is, the majority of football fans won't even know his name. It is of course the Iranian legend Ali Daei, he bagged a staggering 109 goals for his country in just 149 games. Unlike most footballer he didn't take the usual route into football, in fact he managed to graduate University with a Bachelors in Materials Engineering and didn't play for his local side until he was 19. His National career started in 1993 when he was called up to the side for the [1993 ECO Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_ECO_Cup). He made his debut against Pakistan and then played the subsequent game against Turkmenistan. Iran won both games but Daei didn't score. Iran would on to win the tournament but he wouldn't make another appearance. His next game came in the qualifiers for the [1994 World Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(AFC), he would net his first goal for the side in a 6-0 trouncing of Chinese Taipei. Funnily enough he wouldn't score for them again in qualifying until the second game against Chinese Taipei came around. They won 6-0 yet again with Daei scoring twice. Iran topped their group and went through to the second round of qualifiers. In this second round Iran would play 5 games, Daei would net 3 goals. It wasn't enough and Iran crashed out of the second round in 5th place. Daei though scored 7 in total throughout the qualifiers and Iran clearly had something to be excited about. A few years later and it was time to qualify for the [1996 Asian Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_AFC_Asian_Cup). Iran's opening qualifier was against Nepal, Iran won 8-0, Daei scored 4. Sounds impressive, until you see the next match in which he bagged 5 times. 4 of which came in the space of 13 minute as Iran smashed Sir Lanka 7-0. He would score a further 3 times in the remaining 4 fixtures to help Iran qualify for the Asian Cup, top of the group winning 6/6 games. Scoring 27 and conceding just 1. Daei scored 44% of the goals for Iran in qualifying. In the group stage of the Asian Cup, Iran were handed a difficult group of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Thailand. Daei would score 1 goal in all 3 games to help them top the group in dramatic fashion. All 3 of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia ended the group on 6 points. In-fact, Iran and Saudi Arabia had the same goals scored and goals against, with Iraq only being behind by 1 goal scored. However, Iran were ahead on the Head to Head, from the 3-0 win over Saudi Arabia. Iran were given the tough draw of South Korea for the Quarter-Finals and found them selves going behind twice in the first half to be 2-1 down at the break. Then of course Daei actually tried and netted 4 times in the second half to help them win 6-2. The Semi-Finals was against Saudi Arabia, the side they beat in the group to top it. The Saudis clearly wanted revenge and held them to a 0-0 at full time. A penalty shootout was used to decide and Daei stepped up first. Shockingly he missed his pen and Iran crashed out. They had a third place play off game against Kuwait and drew 1-1, Daei scoring the equalizer. Again a penalty shootout was needed and Iran were the victors, this time though Daei didn't take one. The tournament ended with Iran in 3rd place and Daei's 8 goals giving him the Golden Boot. His performances caught the eye and he was handed a move from Al-Sadd to Bundesliga outfit Arminia Bielefeld. They would finish in last place this season, getting 32 points. Ali Daei though only featured in 25 games (1,829 Minutes), scoring 7 and assisting 2. Giving him a goal contribution of 1 every 203 minutes, or 1 goal every 2.2 games. Arminia Bielefeld scored 43 times this season so Daei actually contributed to 20% of the entire teams goals. The next games for Iran were the [1998 World Cup Qualifiers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(AFC). In the first round, Iran had an easy time against Kyrgyzstan, Syria and The Maldives. The opening game was a 17-0 thumping of Maldives, Daei though only managed to score twice. The next game he got 1 goal against Kyrgyzstan in a 7-0 win. Then the game against Syria he got the only goal of the match. Against Maldives again they won 9-0 and he got 2. In the Final Round of qualifying Iran had an incredibility tough group. Kuwait, who came 4th in the Asian Cup just a year or so ago were in this group and placed in 5th place out of 5. So yeah, it was a toughie. Daei's only 2 goals came in a 3-0 win over Qatar and a 4-1 win over China. Iran placed 2nd in the group and went to a play off against 2nd in the other group, Japan. Daei would score the second for Iran to make it 2-1 in this game but it wasn't enough as Japan would make it 2-2 in the 75th minute before winning with a Golden Goal in the 118th. However despite coming 2nd in the group and losing the play off this wasn't the end for Iran, they had one last chance of making the World Cup. [The loser of the AFC Play Offs has to face the winner of the Oceania qualifiers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(AFC%E2%80%93OFC_play-off) and the winner goes to the World Cup. So now Australia stood between them. It was a 2-legged affair, the first game was in Iran and ended 1-1. So it was all to play for in Australia. It was a bad start for Iran, going 1-0 down at the break and then 2-0 almost as soon as the second half started. Then in a mad 5 minutes, Iran got 2 back and it was tied 3-3 on aggregate with 10 mins to go. Then the full time whistle goals. Iran had qualified on goal difference. Iran had beaten a side that included Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell. The World Cup would see Iran put in a group with Germany, Yugoslavia and The U.S.A. I won't go into the background of this much but I'm sure most of you are aware of the political backdrop and the hostage crisis between Iran and USA in the late 90s. So this was a big game for all the wrong reasons. Iran had no real chance of getting out of the group but they did have a victory for the entire nation. Beating the USA 2-1 to secure their first ever World Cup win. Daei may not have scored but he played a massive part in this historic match. The win also eliminated USA. After the World Cup, Daei was sold to Bayern Munich. Clearly his form for Club and Country had impressed the German Giants. Daei's next games for Iran were in the [1998 Asian Games](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_at_the_1998_Asian_Games_%E2%80%93_Men). Daei scored his first goal in the second game of the tournament, the 5th of a 6-1 win over Laos. The second round of group stages saw them face China, Oman and Tajikistan. he scored once in a 4-2 loss to Oman, twice in a 5-0 win over Tajikistan and once in a 2-1 win over China. The next round saw them face Uzbekistan. In the 82nd minute they were winning 1-0, in the 90th they were winning 4-0. Daei got a 7 minute hat-trick, only the 2nd fastest in his career, his best being in that 7-0 Sir Lanka win we mentioned earlier, getting 3 in 6. As you do. Iran would go on to beat China in the Semi-Finals and their old rivals Kuwait in the final. Daei wouldn't score in either game but he ended the tournament as a gold medalist and a silver boot, 1 goal behind Kuwait's Faraj Laheeb. Iran then competed in the second and final edition of the [Maple Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_Canada_Cup), they came in second and Daei scored his only goal of the cup against the hosts Canada in a 1-0 win. This would also mark the end of Daei's first and only season at Bayern Munich. He was low down in the pecking order and due to the Asian Games taking place during the season his playing time was limited even more. That being said he still managed to appear 32 times for the club in all competitions, including 4 times in the Champions League. Wikipedia lists him as the first ever Asian play to appear in the tournament, however I am unable to verify this. He managed 6 goals and 1 assist in 1,586 minutes for the side, giving him an average of 1 goal contribution every 226 minutes, or 1 goal every 2.5 games. Still a decent return for a squad player. His only season would see him win a double of the Bundesliga and the DFB-Ligapokal (German Cup). He missed out on winning a treble after losing in the Champions League final to Man Utd 2-1. In turn giving Man Utd the treble instead, but I'm sure you all know what happened in that game. Ali Daei was on the bench that night but didn't feature. Should Bayern have won, he would have been the first ever Asian player to lift the Champions League. Ironically, that feat was done a few years later by Man Utd cult hero, Park Ji-Sung. Daei was frustrated with his lack of game time and left the club for Hertha BSC. Now back to Iran. They had played a few friendlies but the next real games were the [qualifiers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_AFC_Asian_Cup_qualification) for the [2000 AFC Asian Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_AFC_Asian_Cup). The tournament Iran had placed 3rd in last time out. Daei would score 6 goals in 6 games during these qualifiers, including a hat-trick against Maldives in a 8-0 win. This helped Iran top the group over Syria on goal difference and qualify for the cup. Now the qualifiers ended in April 2000. The tournament started in October 2000. Yet between these 2, Iran featured in the [LG Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Cup_(association_football). ran came 3rd in the Tournament, beating Macedonia 3-1 in the 3rd place game. Daei would score the second. He also scored in a 1-1 draw against Egypt. The 2000 Asian Cup came around and Iran were handed a group of Iraq, Thailand and Lebanon. Daei would get 1 goal in all 3 games as Iran topped the group. They crashed out in the next round to South Korea. 1-1 after 90 minutes, South Korea would get a Golden Goal winner in the 99th. Next up were the [2002 World Cup qualifiers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(AFC). In the first round Iran had Tajikistan and Guam. Daei scored 5 times in these 2 games, 4 of which game in an 19-0 demolition of Guam. The last goal was the first in a 2-0 win over Tajikistan. Before the second round of qualifiers, Iran were scheduled to appear in two different cups. First was the [Cup of Ancient Civilizations](http://www.rsssf.com/tablesi/iran-ancient01.html). In the first game Iran drew 2-2. Now, the website I have linked to for this cup says that Daei scored in the game. No where else has this listed. It's almost impossible to find any information about this tournament so it is possible that Daei has an extra goal that no one is aware of, pushing him up to 110. This website was updated last on the 22nd of Jan 2001, which was the date of the final game, so it's from someone that was watching it. If anyone can find information about this, it would be amazing. Iran would lose on penalties and go to a third place decider against China. They won 4-0 and he got the first. The next cup was yet again the [LG Cup](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_LG_Cup_(Iran). Iran played 2 games and Daei scored in both, beating Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0 in the final game. Now time for the second round of World Cup qualifiers, Iran were grouped up with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Thailand. Daei would net 6 times in 8 games as they placed 2nd in the group, giving them a play off match against UAE. They won the first leg 1-0 and the second 3-0 with Daei scoring in the second. However they weren't in the World Cup just yet. [They had to play against the runners up of European qualifers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_(UEFA%E2%80%93AFC_play-off). This was Republic of Ireland. They lost the first leg 2-0 and won the second leg 1-0, meaning they lost on aggregate. The [LG Cup](http://www.rsssf.com/tablesl/lgcup3-02.html) came around yet again. Iran would the final on penalties after a 1-1 drew with Paraguay. Daei scored the equalizer for Iran. Yet again Iran found themselves in [Asian Cup qualifiers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_AFC_Asian_Cup_qualification#Group_D_2), this time for the 2004 edition. Te group was Jordan, Lebanon and North Korea. In the 6 games played, Daei got 4 goals. Scoring twice in the opener against Jordan and once in both games against Lebanon as Iran topped the group. The goal in the second game against Lebanon was his 85th for Iran. Moving him above Puskas a the leading all time scorer for a national side. Before the Asian Cup started, Iran had the job of 2006 World Cup qualifiers to attend to. They had a group of Jordan, Qatar, and Laos. In the first 2 games, Daei scored 3 times. Now the qualifiers hadn't yet finished but Iran went and played in the [WAAF Tournament](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_West_Asian_Football_Federation_Championship). Iran were in a group with Lebanon and Syria. In the opener against Lebanon, Daei got a hat-trick as they won 4-0. He then scored the 1st in a 7-1 win over Syria to top the group. He wouldn't get another goal until the faced Syria again in the final. Imagine the final being against a team you beat 7-1 in the groups. As you can imagine they won, 4-1 with Daei getting the second. WC qualifiers still didn't resume, this time interrupted by the Asian Cup that Iran qualified for earlier. Iran were in a tough group with Japan, Oman and Thailand. Daei only managed to score once in the group, the last in a 3-0 win over Thailand. However, Iran placed second and got out the the next round. They beat South Korea 4-3 and then lost to China in the Semi Finals. Daei would get a goal in the third place game as Iran beat Bahrain 4-2. The 2006 WC qualifiers finally started up again, with Daei getting 5 goals, 4 against Laos as they topped the group. His second goal in this match made him the first player to break the 100 barrier for a national side. In the second round of qualification, Iran were in a group with Japan, Bahrain and North Korea. Daei's only goal would come in a 2-1 defeat to Japan. Iran placed second and qualified for the World Cup in Germany. Yet again, the LG Cup was here. I'm unable to find much on this edition. Wikipedia says that Daei scored his only goal in a 2-0 win over Togo. Yet in the [LG Cup page](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Cup_(association_football) there isn't even a tournament with Togo in. I found this article saying that it was [cancelled](http://iransportspress.com/irans-lg-cup-cancelled/). Then this from SkySports with the [score](https://www.skysports.com/football/iran-vs-togo/65822). So a game took place but it may not be the LG Cup. Either way he scored. After this is was the [2007 Asian Cup qualifiers](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_AFC_Asian_Cup_qualification#Group_B). Daei would only score 1 goal, the last in a 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei. Iran topped the group. His last goal for Iran would come in a friendly just before the 2006 World Cup. The second in a 3-2 win against Costa Rica. The 2006 WC came around and Daei was in the squad. Now this caused a lot of controversy. Many Iranians felt like he wasn't the player he used to be and his spot should have gone to a younger player. He defended his spot and felt like he still deserved to play. In the World Cup, Iran had a group of Portugal, Mexico and Angola. Only getting 1 point from a 1-1 draw to Angola. He didn't play for Iran again and had one more season of club football at Saipa before retiring. He had a career that included 112 club goals, 1 Iranian football league title, 1 Iran pro league title, 1 Hazfi Cup, 1 Super Cup, 1 DFB-Ligapokal and 1 Bundesliga. For Iran he has 109 (110 Possibly) goals, being the all time goalscorer for any national country. 2 Asian games gold medals, 1 AFC/OFC Cup Challenge Medal, and 1 WAFF Championship Medal. On top of that he was a part of the side that got Iran's first every World Cup win. He may not be a legend to us, but for the people of Iran he is godlike.