Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand ran away from nomad family after father tore up his gloves – but went from homelessness to saving a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty at World Cup and could now face England in Qatar

    Cristiano Ronaldo did not have much to lose when he placed the ball on the penalty spot against Iran at the 2018 World Cup.

    But Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand had more to gain than anyone could believe.

    Beiranvand became a hero in Russia

    Getty – Contributor

    Beiranvand became a hero in Russia

    This was a lifetime of adversity culminating in a single moment that could make it all worthwhile.

    To arrive at that point, Beiranvand had run away from a nomad family after his father ripped up his gloves, telling him he could never be a footballer.

    Beiranvand worked in a dress factory, a car wash, a pizza shop and as a street cleaner, mostly for money but also for somewhere to sleep at night.

    Brazil legend Ronaldo was famously rejected by Flamengo at 16 because he could not afford the bus fare to attend a trial, but Beiranvand was shown a little more compassion.

    A football coach who he met on the bus to Tehran while running away from home eventually agreed to wave a 200,000 Toman (£30) fee to let him train with a local club.

    Eventually, he would get an opportunity at Naft-e-Tehran and battle his way through life to become Iran’s first-choice goalkeeper in 2015.

    Beiranvand is about to embark on his second World Cup


    Beiranvand is about to embark on his second World Cup

    He quickly rose to fame with his super-human throw, a skill he developed while playing a local game called Dal Paran, which involves lobbing stones, as a kid.

    In 2016, he actually set a new world record for the longest throw in a football match during a clash with South Korea.

    And after keeping 12 clean sheets to help his country qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Beiranvand’s Iran were drawn into a group with Spain and Portugal.

    The Iranian goalkeeper, who was told by his father to settle for life as a simple shepherd, was about to share a stage with Andres Iniesta and Ronaldo.

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    But he did not just share the stage. He stole the spotlight.

    After a 1-0 victory over Morocco and a narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain, Iran entered the final game against Portugal with a genuine chance of progressing.

    Ricardo Quaresma dented their hopes with a 45th-minute opener and then Ronaldo had the chance to put Portugal in the last-16 and send Iran home in the 53rd minute.

    But Beiranvand guessed correctly and kept the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out.

    Ronaldo could not get past Beiranvand from 12 yards

    AFP or licensors

    Ronaldo could not get past Beiranvand from 12 yards

    A late equaliser was enough to earn a 1-1 draw but not enough to usurp Spain or Portugal, when a win would have seen Iran top the group.

    Now they are back and it is England’s turn to try and get past Carlos Queiroz’s men.

    The Three Lions take on Iran in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Monday and Beiranvand is in the squad.

    ‘Penalties’ is always a scary word when major tournaments come knocking, but it might just have an added fear factor if Beiranvand starts between the sticks.

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