Ali Karimi may be only a fledgling star at Bayern Munich but the Iranian midfielder hopes that he will not shrivel under the spotlight as previous compatriots have at the club.
Karimi's first league goal for Bayern helped sink Bayer Leverkusen
Iranian international Karimi arrived at Bayern Munich with a big reputation and he gave the fans an early glimpse why last Saturday with a fantastic full debut in the 5-2 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern manager Felix Magath was said to be so impressed by Karimi in training that he handed him a surprise start and the 26-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
"After the 4-1 defeat against Leverkusen last season I drafted in players who are strong at winning tackles," confirmed Magath. "Ali did that and his attacking approach pleases me too."
Respected magazine Kicker voted Karimi in the team of the weekend and the midfielder could hardly contain his joy at scoring on his full Bundesliga debut.
Karimi growing in confidence with Bayern
"I am getting stronger and my first Bundesliga goal gives me a lot of confidence," enthused Karimi. "I hope the coach and fans are happy with me, although that was not me at 100 percent. There is more to come."
With Bayern leading 2-1 Karimi showed good composure to volley home in the 35th minute after Dutch international Roy Makaay had won the ball at the back post.
Karimi came off in the 58th minute for Brazilian international Ze Roberto but a warm ovation from the traveling Munich fans showed their appreciation for his contribution.
Previous bad experiences of Iranians at Munich
Bayern have had bad experiences with Iranian internationals in the past with striking pair Ali Daei and Vahid Hashemian disappearing without a trace. Iran legend Daei, the first man to score 100 goals at international level, was handpicked by West Germany's 1974 World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer in 1998, but moved on a year later.
Hashemian fared little better leaving the club this season after failing to make an impact following a two million euro move from VfL Bochum last summer.
"Maybe the other Iranian players did not have that little bit of luck at Bayern," said Karimi. "But I hope to have an impact here and prove that I am a good footballer."
Lauded player snapped up by astute club
Asian Player of the Year Karimi has won over 80 caps for Iran and his tally of 32 goals has seen him labeled 'the Asian Maradona' -- in reference to Argentina's 1986 World Cup hero Diego.
Despite the hype Bayern were the only major European club to come in for Karimi snapping him up on a free transfer from Al-Ahli in Dubai.
A one-year renewable contract means Karimi can not afford a settling in period but if the performance in Leverkusen is anything to go by he is already feeling at home in Munich.