MOSCOW: Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand saved Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty on Monday — his latest heroics in an incredible life story, reports the Daily Mail.
Growing up as part of a nomad family in Lorenstan, Iran, Alireza would help his family look after their sheep while playing football with friends.
At the age of 12, he was turning out for a local team as a goalie but his father, Morteza, was against him having a football career.
“He even tore my clothes and gloves and I played with bare hands several times,” Alireza told The Guardian ahead of the World Cup.
This led to Alireza running away from home to Tehran with the hope of finding a club there. Broke but determined, he found a team but had no place to sleep.
He ended up with other poor migrants near Azadi Tower. A coach arranged for Alireza to stay at a teammate’s house for two weeks.
Later, Alireza found work in a dressmaking factory and then in a car wash. He joined another club but was eventually told he had to leave.
The aspiring goalkeeper ended up working in a pizza shop. One day, his former coach came in to buy a pizza and Alireza, embarrassed, did not want to serve him. The pizza shop owner forced him to, and he quit a few days later,
His last temporary job was as a street cleaner. After several ups and downs where he joined and left clubs, he was offered another chance by Naft-e-Tehran.
Alireza finally got his break when he was selected for the Iran Under 23-team.
On Monday, when Alireza stared down Ronaldo during the penalty kick, he was one of the calmest men in the stadium. After all, he has been through a lot in his hard life.