Always a “Keeper”
Scoring goals is the ultimate aim of all the players in the game of football (soccer), except two players on each side who against the will of the other 20 players, and the rest of the spectating world for that matter, prefer to keep a big fat “0″ on their score sheets! Their most important task is to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line.
If a goalkeeper makes a dozen incredible saves, it might be simply dismissed as him doing his job, but if he makes a blunder and let a ball hit the back of his goal net, he gets all the blames and might even become the target of many a cruel jokes for years to come.
Who would want to take on such a huge responsibility, such an uphill challenge, such a low reward/high risk task?
Of all the players in a football team, goalkeepers are a different breed, different characters. Nasser Hejazi was one such character.
During his goalkeeping years, he inspired generations of young Iranian men many of whom tried to follow his footsteps. His style on the green field was unique and gracious. Just being a “Great Goalkeeper” that he was would be enough to make him an immortal in the eyes of millions of Iranian fans, but interestingly, in his coaching years, Hejazi moved away from goalkeeping and established himself as a modern day coach.
During his coaching years, he rarely commented on goalkeeping. Going through the rosters of the teams that he coached over the years one would struggle to find one outstanding goalkeeper. It is as if he intentionally refrained from training or breeding exceptional goalkeepers. But in fact he was concentrating on the bigger picture in the game, and to him goalkeeping was just a piece of the puzzle. However, once a keeper, always a keeper.
Swimming against the current is a unique characteristic of goalies, which needs bravery and willpower. Nasser Hejazi had mastered this art and brought it up to a different level off the field. How he lived, what he believed, and what he said set an example for the generations of Iranians to come.
All the inspiring young Iranian goalkeepers should salute Hejazi as their role model, while the whole nation of Iran salutes their immortal” Hero” for one last time.
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