Iran's predominantly Muslim national football team picks first Christian captain

Iranian-Armenian Andranik 'Ando' Teymourian always makes the sign of the cross on the football field.(Wikipedia)

For the first time in history, Iran's predominantly Shia Muslim national football team will be led by a proud Christian.

Iranian-Armenian Andranik "Ando" Teymourian was recently selected as captain of Team Melli, which represents Iran in international competitions.

The 32-year-old football player faces the challenge of keeping Iran's national football team as the first in Asia, and one of the Top 40 teams around the world, based on FIFA rankings.

Teymourian, who usually plays as a defensive midfielder, has always been proud of his faith. He is often seen making the sign of the cross while on the football field.

"I'm happy that as a Christian I play in a Muslim team," Iran's new team captain, fondly known by his fans as "Samurai" due to his hairstyle, said in a recent interview.

Despite the difference in religious beliefs with most people in his home country, Teymourian said he is proud to represent Iran in the football field.

"I have Armenian roots but I hold the Iranian passport and I'm proud of that, I hold my flag high. I hope I can enhance the good reputation of Armenian people in Iran," he said.

He also once expressed hopes that Iranian women will be allowed to watch their national football team on the field some day.

"For me it's the audience that's the beauty of football," Teymourian said. "I hope it gets crowded in the morning and that most are Iranians. There will be an opportunity for them to see us."

Aside from his stint in Iran's national football team, Teymourian also played for three clubs in England, including Bolton and Fulham in the Premier League.