Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Marat & Behrang
Marat Nailevich Izmailov is a Russian Tatar football player, currently playing for Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Marat is praised for his speed and technique, especially in "duels" for the ball. He is (judging by the amount of fan blogs I found while googling for pictures) very popular among Portuguese fans.
Another odd factoid found while googling: if you type "marat izmailov" in the Google search window, one of the suggestions that pop up is "marat izmailov muslim". The idea of a blond and blue-eyed Russian Muslim footballer is probably very exotic to some fans, prompting the searches. The top result while picture googling was this hilarious thread at the hockey forum HFBoards, debating whether Tatars are Mongols, whether Abkhaz are Muslims, and whether there can possibly exist such a thing as an European Muslim at all. One moderator then goes on to present one of the best summaries of the Tatar phenomenon I've ever seen (on a hockey forum, at any rate), complete with illustrations. Nice work!
Marat began his pro career at Lokomotiv Moskva in 2001. In this older photo we see him sport the classic Russian hairstyle for men :0)
Marat battling Behrang Safari (FC Basel) for the ball. Behrang is an Iranian-Swedish player, also highly regarded, not only in his homeland Skåne.
This shot of Behrang was shamelessly copied from the Sydsvenska Dagbladet, the main newspaper for southern Sweden. The accompanying article is noteworthy for non-soccer fans, too. Behrang was detained by US authorities last year while changing international flights at Houston airport in Texas. Although he was travelling with the Swedish national team, he was isolated and interrogated until he missed the connecting flight to Costa Rica. Eventually he was released and could catch another flight - 24 hours later. The reason cited: Behrang was born in Tehran.
Meanwhile, three of his teammates missed the connection for a completely different reason - they attempted to board a flight to San José, California, instead of San José, Costa Rica. Swedes abroad...
Here is Behrang in his hometown, the sleepy academic village Lund, which makes me, a grudging Lundensare, feel unusually blessed. (Photo from Expressen.se)