Ex-Aston Villa star and England under-21 now playing in the ‘Axis of Evil’

Jlloyd Samuel

We take a look at the current employment of former Villa, Bolton Wanderers and Cardiff City defender Jlloyd Samuel; and whether the stance of his country of employment really matters when it comes back to one thing; football?

The Axis of Evil was a controversial term used to define the three countries Iraq, Iran and North Korea in 2002 by former U.S President George W. Bush.

The reference was in relation to the threat for each country developing nuclear arms; which would then be potentially used to threaten the safety of the American people.

It was one of the more infamous terms publicised throughout the war on terror and although recent events in North Korea seem to have backed up his stance relating to the East Asian state his vitriol against Iraq and Iran has had its ups and downs in regards to accuracy.

The fact is Bush once also said:

‘’Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream;’’ so I really don’t know what to believe.

But I am no political activist or demonstrator and that really isn’t the point, however, back to footballing matters and it seems the ‘evil’ inhabiting the country of Iran did not deter one former Premier League star from seeking new pastures in the country.

The man in question is Jlloyd Samuel; former Aston Villa, Bolton and Cardiff City left-back.

Yep no amount of reported human rights offences stopped him trying his hand at top-flight football in Iran; he joined former team-mate Andranik Teymourian at Iran Pro League side Esteghal in December 2011 and has not yet looked back; with this season looking like being his best ever.

Samuel was called up to England international duty one in his Premier League career and featured for the under-21’s on seven occasions; but he now represents the country of his birth Trinidad and Tobago.

At 30-years-old instead of following the usual rhetoric of dropping into lower league obscurity he really took a gamble on his career with his Middle East move. This season he has played over 30 times for the side as they chase an eighth Iranian title success. He has also grabbed two goals in their so far successful AFC Champions League campaign.

He spoke of his time in Iran and sounded happy in an interview with The Sun in July last year:

“The supporters are fanatical. You get 85,000 to 100,000 people at our home games. They’re so passionate.”

And it seems he is enjoying his time at the club; he even stuck around after his friend Teymourian left to play in Qatar.

This season he has even been converted into a central midfielder on occasions and last year he won his first ever career honour after lifting the Hazfi Cup with the Tehran side and this year he could be on the verge of a double; although treble dreams were dashed last week when rivals Sepahan, managed by the dad of former Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar, beat them in the semi-finals of the Hazfi Cup on penalties.

For Jlloyd however he seems to be enjoying his time in Iran and says it is all about the football and he seems to pay about as much attention to President Ahmadinejab as I do with David Cameron (which trust me is about the amount of thought you give to eating a cupcake laced with radioactive material) in Tehran; where he is revelling a sense of competition he had never felt in the UK.

For Samuel it all about playing football and why shouldn’t it be. People constantly strive to attach political meaning to footballing issues (step up Paolo Di Canio) when really sometimes it is not worth looking beyond that green rectangle.

So while you may have your grievances about the country for its various infringements outside of a sporting context for Jlloyd Samuel he is simply loving playing competitive football and challenging for trophies once again.

Put to him that he shouldn’t play in a country the likes of Iran and he may quote a recent Oscar winning film to you.

‘’Argo f@#k yourself!’’

image: © joncandy

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