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Club News

Rovers World Cup Connections: Iran

5 June 2018

With the World Cup about to begin in Russia, we look at connections between Bristol Rovers Football Club and the 32 participating countries.

The Iranian Rover

At some point in 1933, Youra Eshaya was born in Iran to Iranian parents, Eshaya Pera and Batishwa Benyamin.

His family fled over the border to Iraq in 1935 and he was to win 75 full caps there before, having married a Swedish girl, he settled in Gothenburg, where he died in 1992.

Youra Eshaya had spent the 1954/55 season with Rovers where, although he did not break into the League side, he played in 28 games for the Colts side, scoring four goals.

National Coach

In 1972, for a period of a few months, George Skinner (1917-2002) was the national coach of Iran, one of six countries he managed.

A brief playing career with Spurs had preceded two wartime games with Rovers during the 1945/46 season.

Skinner developed a reputation wherever he went as a fine coach, ultimately taking charge of club sides in Iceland before retiring to the south coast of England.

They played in Iran

Alan Gow enjoyed a brief career with Rovers in February 2014, playing four times on loan from Exeter City.

Prior to that, he had played for Notts County against Rovers in March 2011 and, in February 2012, joined Rah Ahan FC in Iran.

Similarly, Frenchman Damien Mozika, who hit the post for Torquay United against Rovers on Boxing Day 2013, played for Tarbiat Yazd, whilst Alan Whittle, who scored for Orient against Rovers in February 1977, was with Persepolis.

Frank O'Farrell played five times in the 1950s for West Ham against Rovers and was Iranian national manager from 1974 to 1976.

Ryan Tofazolli, British born of Iranian heritage, scored for Mansfield Town against Rovers in October 2015 and played for Peterborough United against Rovers last season.

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