Tasnim – Former Osasuna striker John Aloisi may not have shared a dressing room with Javad Nekounam, but he knows plenty about his fellow former Osasuna player.
Former Australia striker Aloisi scored 37 goals in 129 appearances for the club from 2001 to 2005, while Iran’s Nekounam, who joined in 2006, would go on to become a fan favorite over two stints and nearly 200 matches for Los Rojillos.
The duo - alongside another former Iranian Osasuna star, Masoud Shojaei - are both in the running for this week’s Asia’s Greatest Players in Spanish Football poll, and according to Aloisi, Nekounam was a highly respected figure at the club.
“I am very familiar with Nekounam, because he was a really good midfielder at Osasuna,” Aloisi told the-AFC.com from Australia.
“The supporters really liked him, but also the players that I spoke to rated him very highly. He was able to dictate the tempo of the game but also, defensively he was brilliant. He could run all day, and he suited the way that the team and Spanish football was."
“Usually the Spanish look more to South America for foreigners because it’s an easy transition for the players. They adapt very well, but slowly the Asian market is opening up, because they realize there are technically very good players in Asia who are very tough.
“They can push throughout difficult situations and they don’t give up because they’ve come through a very different background. I think that’s why the Iranian players did well in Spain, especially at Osasuna,” Aloisi said.