Andranik Eskandarian: Played against Maradona and became the first Armenian in the World Cup

Andranik Eskandarian: Played against Maradona and became the first Armenian in the World Cup

Andranik Eskandarian, an outstanding footballer of Armenian descent, made history as the first representative of the Armenian diaspora to participate in the World Cup finals. His remarkable career began and flourished in Iran, where he achieved significant success, and later continued in the USA, where he became one of the most famous players of the New York Cosmos football club.

Eskandarian was born in Iran, where he started his professional football career. Success did not take long to follow: in 1975, he became the champion of Iran, marking the first major achievement in his career. In 1974, his team reached second place in the Iranian league. Two years later, in 1977, Eskandarian won the Iran Cup, confirming his high level of skill and professionalism. He played for Taj SC (now Esteghlal) for six years, and Taj's fans called him "Barbed Wire."

Achievements on the International Stage

In 1976, as part of the Iranian national team, he became the champion of Asia, a significant achievement for both the country and the player. In the same year, he participated in the Olympic Games in Montreal, where his team reached the quarterfinals. The culmination of Andranik Eskandarian's international career was his participation in the 1978 World Cup held in Argentina. This was Iran's first appearance in the World Cup. Eskandarian played in matches against the Netherlands and Scotland, showcasing his outstanding football skills at the highest level.


In the match against Scotland, Eskandarian became the first Iranian player to score in the World Cup, unfortunately, it was an own goal. However, his teammate later tied the game, and it ended 1-1. Despite the own goal, the game was considered a success for Iran, including Eskandarian's defensive play against Kenny Dalglish and Joe Jordan, and an embarrassment for Scotland.

Andranik Eskandarian
Andranik Eskandarian faced Diego Maradona in a friendly match against Argentina in 1977. The regular time of the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Argentina won in the penalty shootout.

Career in the USA and the New York Cosmos

After a successful career in Iran, Andranik Eskandarian moved to the USA, where he continued his football career with the New York Cosmos, starting in the 1979 season. Playing for this club, he was included in the list of 18 famous players of the team. Eskandarian won the North American championship title five times and the cup three times, making him one of the most successful players in the club's history.

When the Cosmos folded in 1984, Eskandarian continued to play for the New York Express during its half-season in the Major Indoor Soccer League. From 1989 through 1990, he played for the New Jersey Eagles of the American Soccer League.

Andranik Eskandarian left a significant legacy in the world of football. His achievements have inspired many young players of Armenian descent around the world. He demonstrated that perseverance, hard work, and dedication can lead to great success on the international stage. Eskandarian became a symbol of success and pride for the Armenian diaspora, and his contribution to the development of football will forever remain in the history of the sport.

Andranik Eskandarian

Thus, Andranik Eskandarian not only achieved significant success in his career but also became an important figure for the Armenian community and world football. His story is an example of how one person can overcome all difficulties and reach the pinnacle of their craft while staying true to their roots and cultural heritage.

Andranik's son, Alecko Eskandarian, was also a footballer and played in MLS. He showed great promise, becoming an MLS champion with D.C. United in 2004 and even being called up to the US national team, for which he played only one match. Unfortunately, Alecko struggled with injuries for a long time and was forced to end his football career at the age of 27.

Alecko Eskandarian
Alecko and Andranik Eskadarians.

An Armenian, Eduard Markarov, also participated in the 1966 World Cup as part of the USSR team, but Andranik Eskandarian was the first from the diaspora.

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Updated: July 18, 2024, 10:15 a.m.



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