Iranian pro-footballer refugee plays first game in UK for Lancaster reserve team

Aidin Hamouni, 22, who fled Iran and arrived in Lancaster last year said he was "very happy" after being brought on as a half time sub for Galgate's Reserve team against Coppull United Reserves.

Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 2:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 2:50 pm

Galgate lost 4-1 at home, and striker Aidin didn't manage to score, but he said after the game that he was "very happy" and his long term goal was to play professional football in England.

Aidin arrived in Lancaster last year, and said he was forced to flee Iran because he converted to Christianity.

He played football professionally for Azar Kosar Tabriz in the Persian 3rd Division, after rising through the youth ranks of Machine Sazi in the Persian Pro League.

Aidin Hamouni played for Azar Kosar Tabriz in the Persian 3rd Division.

He has now been granted leave to remain in the UK, and started playing five-a-side football through an integration programme bringing asylum seekers, refugees and Lancastrians together for a game every Wednesday evening.

Matt Hanley, from Lancaster, who runs the sessions, said: "One day after a game, Aidin asked if, as a professional footballer in Iran, I could help find him a proper club to play for in his new hometown.

"Galgate FC has been really friendly and supportive since he started training with them.

"Like most immigrants and refugees I work with, Aidin is kind, humble and immensely grateful to Lancaster for welcoming him so warmly after fleeing persecution in his home country.

Aidin Hamouni in his first game for Galgate Reserves.

"I really hope he can establish himself in the Galgate first team soon, and after that, who knows."

Aidin said: "It was nice after a long time to be able to play my first match.

"It's been a year since I last played football.

"I'm very happy. I love football, it was my life and I now hope to be picked for the first team.

"Lancaster is a good city, good people, I have friends here.

"My dream is to be a big football player here in England."