The only Christian player in national soccer team of Iran has been named "Christian star of the World Cup" in a poll undertaken by a Dutch ecumenical Christian group.
Andranik Teymourian, a 23-year-old midfielder, received 31.3 per cent of votes in the online contest, organized by Gristelijk, a group of Protestant and Roman Catholic teachers and lecturers, out of a shortlist of 11 leading Christian soccer players.
"We selected only players who have chosen to be open about their Christianity," the poll`s organizer, Menno Rasch, told Ecumenical News International. He said a total of 1060 votes had been cast in the poll during the month-long soccer tournament which ended on 9 July with an Italian victory over France.
Teymourian, who recently signed for the English club, Bolton Wanderers, had "snatched first place" from Dutch midfielder Dirk Kuyt of Rotterdam FC, after gaining media attention.
Besides Kuyt, who received 24.8 per cent of votes, runners-up included three Brazilians - Kaka, Ze Roberto and Lucio Ferreira da Silva - as well as another Dutch player, Kew Jaliens, who took third place with 7.8 per cent.
Speaking in Germany, where Iran was eliminated after a single victory against Angola, Teymourian told Agence France-Presse on 4 June he had "no problem being a religious minority", adding that relations were "really good at the heart of the team".
Article written by Jonathan Luxmoore. July 18, 2006.