Interview by Farrokh Hesabi

IPL the best league in Asia: Stefano Cusin

December 5, 2020 - 19:58

TEHRAN - Stefano Cusin, Italian-Canadian football coach and former coach of Shahr Khodro, left the Iran Professional League (IPL) at the end of last season but he still follows the country’s football and believes that IPL is the best league across Asia.

In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, Stefano explained about his experience of working in Iran and the reasons that made him leave Shahr Khodro.

What are you doing these days, considering coronavirus situation in Italy?

 In Italy we have lockdown, especially in my region Tuscany, near Florence, but the restrictions will be eased next week . I just watch games on TV and stay at home with my family waiting for the right opportunity to start work.

How were you connected with the Iranian football and came here to work?

I had told an Iranian agent that my target is to work in the IPL, because I was well- acquainted with Iranian teams such as Sepahan and Esteghlal at the AFC Champions League. I came to a conclusion that in Iran you have great football potentials, stadiums, fans and IPL is the best league in Asia for me. Last January, the Iranian agent called me and said Shahr Khoro coach Yahya Golmohammadi has moved to Persepolis and they need a coach to prepare the trainings and to work with the team head coach. Their target was to try to qualify for Champions League. I didn't hesitate and just I said “Yes I want to go there”. I opted to join the team because Mashhad is a big city and Shahr Khodro are a good club and it was a good step to start working in Iran.

Tell us about your life in Iran; both on and off the pitch.

My life in Iran was great. I lived at a hotel with staff members and some players. I was going to the training, coming back to hotel and preparing for the next training session. I stayed at the hotel and studied and analyzed our next opponent. The rest of the time I visited the Holy Shrine and other parts of Mashhad city. I really enjoyed because the Iranian culture is very similar to the Italian culture. For example, the foods are wonderful and it was surprising for me that many things have the same taste as in Italy. Most of the people in Iran are good people who want to talk with a foreigner and to help him. I visited a lot of cities in Iran and it was a great experience. I was lucky to work with a nice people. Maybe when I came to Shahr Khodro it was the right club but not at the right moment.

Working as a head coach for a while in Shahr Khodro, how was the experience?

You know, I worked with Walter Zenga as an assistant and always have been a head coach. First of all, you must know the league that you are working at, you must know the players and you must understand a lot of things. It’s a big mistake that a foreigner coach tries to change everything in a short time because this is impossible. First, you must learn many things about the culture, the intensity of the training and a lot of other things and little by little you can try changing the things. In my experience, the ‘intensity’ is very important to prepare a good team.

For many Iranian fans that’s still a question that why did you leave Shahr Khodro and come back?

Look, I left Iran because I had some financial problems with the club. I understand all the problems, but when you work it’s normal that you need salary. I spoke a lot of times with the president of the club and other officials. They told me they would solve the problem but nothing happened. That’s the reason I left the club. I was happy with the club or with the country and everything was fine for me. I arrived in the training first and left the training last and was always ready to work. So, I didn’t expect the club to treat me like this. I don’t understand until now why this happened to me and why they didn’t solve the problem.

Would you please tell us your opinion about Mehdi Rahmati who has been appointed as head coach of Shahrkhodro?

Mehdi Rahmati has a great personality. He was a big player and he played very well last season. He is a good leader, a serious guy, a very professional and a very experienced player. As a player he was fantastic. As a coach, I think he has the same qualities and can be a great football manager in Iran. Juventus have given Andrea Pirlo the opportunity to lead the team for his first experience and it works in Shahr Khodro. Now, he has problems because they have changed many players but I’m sure Mehdi will solve the problems and he will be one of the best Iranian coaches in the near future.

Leave a Comment

8 + 8 =