Former Derry City striker Eamon Zayed turned up at the Brandywell to cheer on his former team against Shelbourne on Friday night.
Zayed, (28), who plays for Iranian side Persepolis F.C. said that he has been offered a new contract by the Tehran based team and added that playing in front of 86,000 fans has taken a bit of getting used to.
“Surprisingly it’s going really well for me out there,” said Zayed. “When I joined them in January it was only supposed to be for five months. The contract they gave me was quite good so the way I looked at it was that it would be a chance to earn a bit of money and then I was going to come back to Ireland and possibly play again.
“But I got my chance to play for the team in February and it’s gone from there. I scored three goals in my second appearance for them and since then it’s been great and I’ve been rewarded with the offer of another contract so it looks like I will be out there for another year.”
“They love their football over there. The team I play for is one of the biggest teams in Asia. I think in Iran alone they have 30m football supporters. We play in the Iranian national stadium which holds 100,000 people and they have no problem filling it for the big games.
“There was around 90,000 at the game that I made my first appearance in during an Asian Champions’ League game against a team from Qatar there were 96,000 people at the game. It’s unbelievable.
“It takes a bit of getting used to. It’s been like a fairytale because when you score the fans love. When I scored in my first Asian Champions’ League game I had 86,000 fans chanting my name - it was a remarkable feeling, I don’t know how to describe it. If you do well in Iran and score goals the fans absolutely love you. They treat you like a celebrity and it’s not something I was used to before I left. It’s been great and I enjoy it.”
Zayed scored over 20 goals for Derry last season and said that even though he is now playing his football in Iran he still follows the Candy Stripes’ every game.
“I wanted to come up to Derry and see a few old friends. I looked at the fixture list as soon as I got back from Iran and thought this would be a great opportunity to see them play. It’s great to be here again and to see some of the lads.”
“I have followed every single game this year. I don’t know what the fans’ expectation were at the start of the season but I think Derry City have done alright this season.
“I’d expect Derry to do a little bit better and maybe they’ll strengthen over the break. If Derry were to finish fourth and go on a good cup run it would have be regarded as a good season.”