The final whistle of the goalless encounter between Esteghlal and Naft Masjed Soleyman on Sunday brought the curtain down on a glorious campaign, associated with new records and benchmarks, for the Tehran-based Blues.
Some 75,000 fans watched from the stands at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium as captain Voria Ghafouri lifted a first league trophy in nine years for Esteghlal.
“We were truly a perfect group. This season was sensational for us and the club board and the managerial staff did a magnificent job,” said Ghafouri afterwards, who went on to dedicate the triumph to the victims of last week’s building collapse in Abadan, southwest Iran.
Manager Farhad Majidi, who had been the last Blues’ skipper to win the silverware, and the club celebrated a fourth title in the new era of the Iranian domestic league, after going a whole season without a defeat – an unprecedented feat in the history of the competition.
The Blues won a record 19 games and drew 11 to collect 68 points – a highest tally in the Iranian Pro League since it was first introduced in 2001.
Occasionally criticized for his team’s lack of attack-minded, free-flowing performances, Majidi will surely have a solid backline, inspired by goalkeeper Seyyed Hossein Hosseini, to thank for the outstanding contribution to Esteghlal’s historic campaign.
Esteghlal conceded only 10 goals throughout the season and kept a remarkable 21 clean sheets as both figures stand as new records in the Iranian top flight.
Most away victories (9) as well as the longest streak of successive wins (6) were the other benchmarks set by the champion.
Of all 15 other teams in the league, only Persepolis, Aluminium Arak and Nassaji Mazandaran managed to avoid defeat against Majidi’s men.
But beyond all numbers, what was perhaps most thrilling for the Esteghlal faithful was to watch their team bring an end to the five-year dominance of its archrival Persepolis over the Iranian club football.