Ardeshir (Amir) Ghalenoei was born on November 21, 1963 in Tehran, Iran. His father, a taxi driver, died when Amir was only thirteen years old. He began his career in the late 1970s after passing a technical test for Rah Ahan, one of the oldest clubs in the Iranian football. He played for the club's youth team for two years and was promoted to the first team squad in 1981 by Nasser Ebrahimi. He had a good performance there and scored three goals during the domestic Tehran Hazfi cup. Ghalenoei left the club after the club's head coach signed for Shahin.
When Ebrahimi became Shahin's coach, Ghalenoei moved to Shahin along with him. Shahin had several national players such as Nasrollah Abdollahi, Mehdi Dinvarzadeh, Hamid Majd Teymouri. Ebrahimi left the club in 1984, succeeded by Mehrab Shahrokhi who was the head coach for a short period before being replaced by Nasrollah Abdollahi. Ghalenoei became the club's captain after the retirement of Dinvarzadeh. During his time in Shahin, he helped the team to finish as runner-up in two Tehran leagues in 1985 and 1986.
He played his last match for Shahin in a 2–0 victory against Persepolis where both goals were on Ghalenoei's assists. He left the team in the middle of the 1987–88 season and signed with the Qatari club of Al-Sadd.
He signed a one-and-a-half years contract with Al-Sadd in 1987. He helped his side to two domestic league title and one Emir of Qatar (FA Cup) title. Al-Sadd also won 1988–89 edition of AFC Champions League in spring of 1989 after defeating Al-Rasheed in the final. However Ghalenoei had already left the club and returned to Iran, and thus was not a member of the Asian champions squad.
He joined Esteghlal in July 1989 and played for the club until his retirement. He made his debut in a game against Persepolis in a quarter final Hazfi Cup match where he lost his penalty kick.
He won the Iran league title in his first full season (1989–90) at the club in spring 1990. Esteghlal also won the AFC Champions League on the following season (1990–91) after nearly twenty years.
Ghalenoei lost most of the next season (1991–92) due to a heavy injury. At that season, Esteghlal did could obtain an entry to the next season (1992–93) of Azadegan league and thus was asked to play in the 3rd Division for one season. This meant the departure of many players like Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh, Shahrokh Bayani, Majid Namjoo-Motlagh, Samad Marfavi and Reza Ahadi but Ghalenoei remained at the team and was chosen as the club's new captain. Esteghlal again rose to the top level of Iranian football in 1994–95 and was ranked second on their first season back to the competition. Ghalenoei also scored twice in the final game of the following season (1995–96) Hazfi Cup. In his last season in Esteghlal, they started off successfully both in the Iranian and Asian Cup Winners' Cup, but could not sustain the good performance. Their head coach, Mansour Pourheidari – who had the club to the Asian glory – reigned mid season and Nasser Hejazi was appointed as the head coach and finished the league with sixth position. He retired at the end of this season after missing many matches due to injury.
He was the captain of Esteghlal in the last four years of his career, known as "General", a title bestowed on him by fans due to his outstanding skills in leading the team during his career as the club.
He was first invited to Iran national B football team in 1985 by Nasser Ebrahimi, a coach that he began his career with, and showed a good performance. He was invited on following year to the national team by Parviz Dehdari and made his debut against China PR. However, he missed several international tournaments despite his good performance. For example, when he played in Al-Sadd, he was not invited to the national team squad for 1988 AFC Asian Cup because he was a member of a foreign club. For the 1990 Asian Games held in Beijing, he was not invited because there several talented players in position he played. He was also injured before the 1992 AFC Asian Cup and missed it.
He was invited to Iran national football team again in 1993 by Ali Parvin and played against Bosnia and Herzegovina on September 12, 1993. He also played in final round of 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualification (in Qatar) and performed well especially against Japan and North Korea. His last national match was against Oman in Tehran. He captained Iran for one cap and scored one goal against Kuwait.
Ghalenoei was injured several times during his playing career, first in 1992 and the second in 1996 that was very strenuous and forced him to retire form football. This injury is still with him and he had several surgeries in his post-playing career.
Ghalenoei is the first Iranian football manager who passed Manchester United managerial class after taking Europe grade C at Bayer Leverkusen football club six month earlier.
His first managerial experience was with Keshavarz in 1999 but was unsuccessful. He was later in charge of an Azadegan League side, Bargh Tehran from 2001 to 2002 where he could not lead his team to the promotion play-off, despite collecting 31 points in 20 matches. He faced Persepolis in the Hazfi Cup where Persepolis defeated his team 1–2 in extra time.
After serving as the Esteghlal's interim head coach in 5 matches in spring 2002 and winning the Hazfi cup with this team, he was appointed as Esteghlal's assistant coach for the next season (2002–03). However, he left the team before the season started and joined Esteghlal Ahvaz in the 5th week of the 2002–03 league.
He was appointed as head coach of Esteghlal Ahvaz in the Iran Pro League in November 2002 to keep the club in the league. Esteghlal Ahvaz was in a winless row and was the very last team in the league table when Ghalenoei joined the team. He earned 24 points in 21 matches. After a draw with Malavan at the last week of the season, Esteghlal Ahvaz remained at the league and ended the season at the 11th place.
He was officially named as Esteghlal's head coach before the 2003–04 season by the club chairman Mohammad Gharib. He succeeded Mansour Pourheidari who Ghalenoei was his assistant for the years. At the end of the season, Esteghlal lost the league after a defeat to Esteghlal Ahvaz, team Ghalenoei coached in 2002 in the final match.
Ghalenoei began his second year as the head coach of Esteghlal, which his side was again in the championship race but ended the season at the third place with a goal difference with Zob Ahan in the second rank. One of the best days of Ghalenoei in this season was seen in Tehran derby, when Esteghlal defeated its rival 3–2 with a late goal from Pirouz Ghorbani. Esteghlal forward Reza Enayati was the top scorer of the league and Esteghlal had the best attacking style between the teams of the league.
At the next and final season at Esteghlal in the first spell, Ghalenoei earn the Iran Pro League title for the first time with fifty-nine points ahead of Pas Tehran. Reza Enayati also became the league top scorer for the second constitutive time and Esteghlal had the best defense style. Ghalenoei left the Esteghlal at the end of the season to succeed Branko Ivanković as the head coach of Iranian national football team.
Ghalenoei returned to Esteghlal in May 2008 after two seasons. Esteghlal was saw a bad season in the last year after ending 13th with the management of Nasser Hejazi and Firouz Karimi. Ghalenoei led the team in the remaining matches of Hazfi Cup which Esteghlal won the trophy after defeating Pegah Gilan in the final. Esteghlal won the league at the final day after defeating Aboumoslem and Zob Ahan lose to Foolad. Arash Borhani was also the team and league's top scorer. Esteghlal have a bad starting in AFC Champions League, eliminating in the group stage. At the end of the tournament, Ghalenoei resigned from his post after did not agree with a new contract with club chairman.
After spending one season at Tractor Sazi, he signed a two years contract with Esteghlal on 29 May 2012. He named former Saipa head coach Majid Saleh as his assistant. Esteghlal also bought many stars like Amir Hossein Sadeghi, Rodrigo Tosi and Siavash Akbarpour from Tractor Sazi, Amin Manouchehri from Saipa, Fabio Januario from Sepahan, Javad Nekounam from Osasuna and Liam Reddy from Sydney FC. They also kept their players except Andranik Teymourian who was sold to Al-Kharitiyath and Goran Jerković to Buriram United. His side started the league disappointing in the early weeks but soon obtain leaders after a 1–0 away win over Sepahan but lose the winter championship to Sepahan at the final match of the first half. They also bought Hassan Ashjari, Farzad Hatami, Vicente Arze and Iman Mousavi in the January transfers window and Farhad Majidi returned to the first team after one season. They also released Ferydoon Zandi, Amin Manouchehri, Milad Meydavoudi, Rodrigo Tosi and Liam Reddy. They began the second half successfully and not lost until last match against Damash. Esteghlal also began season's Hazfi Cup with a 4–0 win at Saipa. On 5 May 2013, his side celebrated their 8th Iran Pro League title, 3rd under Ghalenoei with a 1–0 win over Foolad with goal from Javad Nekounam. His side also reaches to the Quarter-finals of the Champions League after ending group match in the first rank over Al-Hilal and also Al-Shabab in the Round of 16.
Ghalenoei stayed at Esteghlal despite bids from Al-Ain and Mes Kerman for their vacant managerial position. Esteghlal bought few players like Ahmad Jamshidian, Mohammad Mehdi Nazari, Pejman Nouri, Mohammad Ghazi and Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht. Fardin Abedini also returned from the loan. His team also kept many of the last season's players but Mojtaba Jabbari doesn't extended his contract and joined Sepahan. Iman Mousavi, Abbas Mohammadrezaei, Farzad Hatami, Hassan Ashjari, Maysam Baou, Ali Hamoudi also sold and Vicente Arze left the team and returned to Charleroi after the end of his loan contract. Esteghlal also won Damash Karaj and Dynamo Kiev during pre-season friendly matches. Esteghlal began the league with a 2–1 away win over Gostaresh Foolad. Esteghlal finished the season in a disappointing 5th place, knocked out in the Group stage of AFC Champions League. Esteghlal also knocked out by Mes Kerman in the semi-finals.
Ghalenoei promised to begin a new project in Esteghlal with signing youth players from Esteghlal's academy and other teams, which he do so in 2003. At the end of the season, he was sacked from the team due to his weak results and finishing the season in the 6th place.
IRIFF appointed Ghalenoei as head coach of the Iran national football team on July 17, 2006 to succeed Branko Ivanković. After finishing first in the qualifying round 2 points ahead of South Korea and then finishing first in the group stage of the final tournament in Malaysia, Iran lost to South Korea in the penalty shoot-outs of the Quarters Final match and was eliminated from the 2007 Asian Cup. Ghalenoei was heavily criticized by the press. After a period of discussion in the Iranian football federation, his contract was not renewed and national team was left with a caretaker manager for several months.
Despite being in negotiations with Uzbek League champions FC Pakhtakor Tashkent on January 1, 2008, Ghalenoei signed a contract until the end of the 2007–08 season with Iran Pro League side Mes Kerman. where he led the club to finish among the top teams of the second half-season, even though it was at the bottom of the table when he accepted the job.
He signed for Sepahan in summer 2009. Where he won the Persian Gulf Cup for the second time in a row, but failed to qualify for last 16 in the AFC Champions League for the second time in the row.
Ghalenoei renewed his contract with Sepahan for the upcoming season, where he won the league for the third time in the row and second time with Sepahan. Sepahan had excellent performance in AFC Champions League as well and qualified for quarter final with five wins in seven matches. However, after that he left Sepahan on June 4, 2011 due to conflict with the new board director though he had led the club to the quarter finals of the AFC Champions League as the best team of the west Asian division.
On June 13, 2011, he was named as new Tractor Sazi head coach. He led the team to the runners-up of the 2011–12 season, one point behind of winner, his former-side Sepahan and qualified to the AFC Champions League for the first time in the club history.
On 9 December 2015, Ghalenoei returned to Tractor Sazi with signing a one-and-a half year contract.
These statistics include all formal club-level games since Ghalenoei started coaching at the highest division of Iran football in 2002: Iran Pro League, Hazfi Cup, and AFC Champions League.As of 20 September 2017
Tehran Hazfi Cup: 1980 (Runner-up)
Tehran League: 1985 (Runner-up), 1986 (Runner-up)
AFC Champions League (1): 1990–91, 1991–92 (Runner-up)
Iranian league (1): 1989–90, 1991–92 (Runner-up), 1994–95 (Runner-up)
Hazfi Cup (1): 1990–91 (Runner-up), 1995–96
Tehran league (1): 1989 (Runner-up), 1990 (Runner-up), 1991
Qatar League (1): 1987–88
Emir Cup (1): 1988
Iranian league (3): 2003–04 (Runner-up), 2005–06, 2008–09, 2012–13
Hazfi Cup (2): 2001–02, 2003–04 (Runner-up), 2007–08
Iranian league (2): 2009–10, 2010–11
Iranian league: 2011–12 (Runner-up)
Hazfi Cup: 2016–17 (Runner-up)
Asian Manager of the Year: 2007 (Runner-up)
Iranian Manager of the Year (4): 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013
Iran Football Federation Award coach of the season (1): 2012–13