Andranik Timotian-Samarani, commonly known as Andranik “Ando” Teymourian, born on 6 March 1983, is an Iranian footballer who currently plays for Tractor Sazi in the Iran Pro League and Iran national team. He usually plays as a defensive midfielder, but can also play as a wide midfielder. He is notably the first Christian to captain the Iranian national team.
From 2006 to 2010, he played for three clubs in England, including Bolton and Fulham in the Premier League.
Teymourian played his first match for Iran in 2005, and has featured in their squads for the 2006 and 2014 World Cups, and also the 2007, 2011 and 2015 Asian Cups.
The Guardian writes on Monday 1 June, 2015
As Iran’s national football team prepared to head to the World Cup last year, Andranik Teymourian stood next to his teammates while they lined up to kiss the holy Islamic book, the Qur’an, as part of the farewell ceremony.
Athough he is not a Muslim, the Iranian Armenian didn’t want to rock the boat and so performed the ritual for travellers, which is a quintessential part of Iranian culture. The cleric holding up the Qur’an could hardly disguise his amusement at the scene.
The 32-year-old midfielder, known as Ando – or Samurai, due to his hairstyle – is not shy of showing his Christianity, often crossing himself on the field. In April, Teymourian, who has played for Bolton Wanderers and Fulham, became the first Christian to lead Iran’s football team as its permanent captain.
“I’m happy that as a Christian I play in a Muslim team,” he said in a recent interview. “I have Armenian roots but I hold the Iranian passport and I’m proud of that, I hold my flag high. I hope I can enhance the good reputation of Armenian people in Iran.”
Ethnic Armenians make up the majority of Iran’s estimated 300,000 Christians. Armenians are fully integrated in Iranian society, from the musician Loris Tjeknavorian to Sombat Hacoupian, who founded one of the country’s most famous men’s clothing brands and is now a household name.
Although Islam is Iran’s official religion, it recognises Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians as accepted religious minorities. They are permitted their house of worship and usual religious services, and have reserved seats in the Iranian parliament. In a country where alcohol and pork meat are forbidden, Christians are allowed to distill booze and eat pork.
There are at least 600 churches in Iran, including the sixth-century St Mary Church of Tabriz, mentioned by Marco Polo in his travel book. The adjacent province of West Azerbaijan boasts the ancient St Thaddeus Monastery, a Unesco world heritage site…..
…..In April, as Iran’s northern neighbour, Armenia, commemorated the centenary of the 1915 genocide, the Iranian government, which is usually nervous about public gatherings, took a rare decision to allow Iranian Armenians to stage a protest in front of the Turkish embassy in Tehran.