Full Name: Esteghlal Tehran FC
Nicknames: The blues
Home Ground: Azadi Stadium
Manager: Parviz Mazloumi
League Winners: 1970-71, 1974-75, 1989-90, 1997-98, 2000-01, 2005-06, 2008-09
League Runner-Up: 1973-74, 1991-92, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2001-02, 2003-04, 2010-11
Hazfi Cup Winners: 1977, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2008
Hazfi Cup Runner-Up: 1999, 2004
AFC Champions League Winners: 1970, 1994
AFC Champions League Runner-Up: 1992, 1999
Esteghlal Tehran Cultural and Athletic Club was founded in 1945 as Docharkeh Savaran (meaning the cyclists) by three military officers; Officer Mirzani, Officer Navab, Officer Janapour. Docharkeh Savaran played in their first official football match in 1946. The following season they were able to win the Tehran Hazfi Cup.
The club officially changed its name to taj in 1949. Taj grew a very big fan base in Iran very quickly, as they became a team that had a winning spirit, and therefore, won many championships and other titles. In the 70′s Taj won a hazfi cup and was successful in being a top team on a consistent basis, most of the time either winning the league or coming in second place.
The team produced many great players that had excellent careers, such as Hassan Rowshan, Nasser Hejazi, Iraj Danaeifard, Hassan Nazari, and Andranik Eskandarian. Following an impressive world cup performance, Nasser Hejazi was on trial with Manchester United and appeared in a friendly match against Stoke City. Manchester United manager Dave Sexton wanted Hejazi to stay for another two or three months before officially having Hejazi sign a contract, but there was nobody in the Iranian Football Federation at the time of the Islamic Revolution to arrange the extension, and therefore he was forced to return back to Iran.
Iraj Danaeifard and Andranik Eskandarian went over to the United States to play their club football. Danaeifard played for the Tulsa Roughnecks and Andranik Eskandarian played for the New York Cosmos.
In 1979 when the Iranian revolution occured, the club was taken control of by the Physical Education Department (a government ran organization). The name of the club was immediately changed to Esteghlal, meaning independence in Farsi. The name taj (meaning crown), was seen as intolerable by the new government because they beleived it reflected the former monarchist regime, and in conclusion, the name was changed.
The 1980′s was a rather quiet period for Esteghlal, as they only competed in local leagues in Tehran, just like most other teams at the time. However, in the 90′s, the team brought glory back to its supporters when they won the AFC Champions League for the second time in the clubs history. They also produced great players that were used in the Iranian National Team such as Alireza Mansourian, Parviz Broumand, Mehdi Pashzadeh, and Parviz Broumand.
In 2001 when the Iranian Premier League was established, Esteghlal had a very successful season, where they finished second in the league, semi – finalists in the AFC Champions League, and Hazfi cup winners. Like the 1978 and 1998 world cup, Esteghlal again produced the Iranian National Team with great players such as Amir Hossein Sadeghi, Vahid Taleblou, and Reza Enayati.
They won the league in 2008-09 in dramatic fasion on the last matchday of the league. In order to be winners, Esteghlal had to beat Payam Mashad by atleast 4 goals and Zobahan, who was 3 point ahead of them, had to loose. Esteghlal hammered Payam Mashad 5-0, and took the league title on the last day of league play.