Seyed Ashkan Dejagah (Persian: اشكان دژآگه, born 5 July 1986), known as Ashkan Dejagah, is an Iranian professional footballer who plays for Al-Arabi in the Qatar Stars League, usually as an attacking midfielder or a right winger.
He represented Germany at youth levels between 2001 and 2009, going on to win the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. He has played for the Iranian national team since 2011, helping them qualify for the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Asian Cup. In 2015, Dejagah was voted by fans on Navad as Iran's best ever Left midfielder.
Dejagah made his professional debut for Hertha BSC in the 2004–05 Bundesliga season. In 2007, he joined VfL Wolfsburg, winning the Bundesliga in the 2008–09 season. In 2012, he joined Premier League side Fulham in London, England on a €2.5 million three-year deal.
Dejagah was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved to Berlin, Germany, at the age of one. He became a German citizen at the age of 16. He played for German national youth teams from 2001 until 2009, winning the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship.
Dejagah made his professional debut for Hertha BSC against VfL Bochum in the opening match of the 2004–05 Bundesliga season, playing the last five minutes in a 2–2 home draw in his only first team appearance that year, thus becoming the youngest player to ever play for the club since it was founded in 1892. In his three years at Hertha, he also played in the regional league. Despite starting out as a central defender, he was quickly moved to the forward position and finished as the team's top scorer in 2005–06, with twelve goals in 23 appearances. Hertha's manager, Falko Gotz, showed continuous faith in Dejagah by gradually giving the youngster playing time in the Bundesliga, as well as three UEFA Cup showdowns in 2005–06, playing the following season in the Intertoto Cup against FC Moscow.
In 2007, Dejagah joined VfL Wolfsburg. In his first season at Wolfsburg, he showed himself as a talent by scoring eight goals and in his second season, he was a regular part of the Bundesliga winning team. In the 2009–10 season, after the selection of Armin Veh as club manager, he lost his place in the starting line up and he could not return to the starting team under Steve McClaren. With the return of Felix Magath, he found his form and in the 2011–12 season, he showed himself as a key player by scoring and assisting several goals for his club. After Dejagah stated a desire to join Fulham FC in order to fulfill his childhood dream of playing in the Premier League, Magath stated that he wanted Dejagah to stay at Wolfsburg; however, he later sided with the player's wishes to play at Fulham. Dejagah ended his career in the Bundesliga with 19 goals and 25 assists.
On 31 August 2012, Dejagah joined Fulham on a three-year deal with an additional year's option, reportedly for €2.5 million, reuniting with his former Wolfsburg teammate Sascha Riether. He became only the third Iranian, after Andranik Teymourian and Karim Bagheri, to play in the Premier League. He made his league debut on 20 October, in a 1–0 home win against Aston Villa, coming off the bench for Fulham with 20 minutes remaining. He made his first start at Arsenal on 10 November, less than a month after his debut, in a 3–3 draw, while his first assist came on New Year's Day to Dimitar Berbatov in a 2–1 win at West Bromwich Albion.
Dejagah played his first game of the season for Fulham in a League Cup win over Burton Albion, and started his first league match of the season against Manchester United on 2 November. On 4 December, Dejagah scored his first goal for Fulham against Tottenham Hotspur in Rene Meulensteen's first game as manager. On 14 January, Dejagah scored a goal and provided an assist to Darren Bent in an FA Cup match against Norwich. On 22 February, Dejagah scored at West Bromwich Albion in his manager's first game again, this time being Felix Magath, his former coach at Wolfsburg. On 15 March, Dejagah scored the winner against Newcastle United, eight minutes after coming on as a substitute, for his fourth Fulham goal. On 30 March, he scored a similar goal against Everton, cutting into his right foot and shooting from outside the 18-yard box. He was named the man of the match after scoring a goal against Hull City on 26 April. Dejagah was voted by fans as Fulham's player of the year at the end of the season.
On 29 July 2014, Dejagah joined Qatari club Al-Arabi. In his first season with Al-Arabi, Dejagah scored 5 goals in 24 appearances and helped Al-Arabi to an eight place finish. Dejagah scored his first goal of the 2015–16 season on 9 December 2015 in Al-Arabi's 4–1 victory against Al-Mesaimeer.
In 2004, upon being called up to the German U-19 team, Dejagah scored seven goals in 15 international games, including two against the Netherlands after his team was down 2–0. In 2005, he was invited to play for Germany's U-21.
In October 2007, Dejagah refused to play an under-21 international match for Germany against Israel, in Tel Aviv. He cited "very personal reasons", and said, variously: "There are political reasons. Everyone knows I'm a German-Iranian", "I have more Iranian than German blood in my veins. Besides, I'm doing this out of respect. After all, my parents are Iranian"; and "I have nothing against Israel. But I'm worried about having problems later when traveling to Iran". Bild (Germany's top-selling newspaper), Ronald Pofalla and Friedbert Pfluger (the General Secretary and a leading member of the Christian Democratic Union), and Charlotte Knobloch (President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany) demanded that Dejagah be excluded from Germany's national team.
Dejagah said in a Stern interview that he chose not to play in Israel because, since the Iranian Revolution, Iranians traveling to Israel are subjected by the Iranian government to harsh punishments and several years in prison, and he had concern for his parents who travel to Iran and his other relatives who live in Iran. He also said he did not make his choice because of personal political, antisemitic, or racist reasons. Since the revolution, the Iranian government has warned Iranian athletes not to travel to Israel or compete against Israeli athletes.
After a meeting with Theo Zwanziger, the president of the German Football Association, and national technical director Matthias Sammer, Dejagah stated that his reason was that he was concerned because of his Iranian origins about the welfare of his family and relatives if he were to play in Israel; therefore, he was not excluded from Germany's national team. Zwanziger said, "He clearly stated that his request not to be nominated for the game in Israel had no racist or anti-Semitic background. He credibly assured us that, because of his Iranian origins, he had only been concerned with the well-being of his family and relatives." Zwanziger added that Dejagah was now prepared to play in the home tie against Israel if selected.
Seven years later, in April 2014, Dejagah spoke on the matter, saying, "This was a long time ago; it is in the past. Yes, it helped me grow up but now I only look to the future."
In 2009, Dejagah won the 2009 UEFA Euro U-21s with Germany and scored a goal in the group stages against Finland.
It had been suggested that Dejagah might play for Iran at the international level rather than Germany, but he said he never really considered it an option. Having played for Germany at the age of 21, he was originally no longer eligible to play for Iran, however, FIFA rule changes in July 2009 meant that he could then play for Iran. In late December, Iran's coach Afshin Ghotbi approached Dejagah in regards to playing for Iran at the upcoming 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, but his playing for Iran was placed on hold as he wanted to pursue first team football with his club VfL Wolfsburg instead.
On 21 September 2011, he was invited to the Iranian national team by Carlos Queiroz. He scored twice on his debut for Iran against Qatar on 29 February 2012 in a World Cup qualifier. Upon qualification to the 2014 World Cup, his next international goals came on 15 and 19 November in Asian Cup qualifying wins over Thailand and Lebanon, sealing Iran's place in the 2015 Asian Cup as well. Dejagah was named in Iran's 2014 FIFA World Cup squad by Carlos Queiroz. He started for Iran in their opening match against Nigeria, but was substituted in the 73rd minute by Alireza Jahanbakhsh. He also played 85 and 68 minutes in the next matches against Argentina and Bosnia and Herzegovina, respectively. He was called into Iran's 2015 AFC Asian Cup squad on 30 December 2014 by Carlos Queiroz.
On 12 November 2015 after captain Andranik Teymourian was suspended, Dejagah captained the national team for the first time in his career and also scored in a 3–1 victory against Turkmenistan.
During his time with Fulham, Dejagah resided in London, England, with his German-Iranian wife and daughter. He wears the Nike Mercurial boot line and has their names embedded onto the external sides of his boots. He has tattoos with Berlin on one arm and Tehran on the other, and the phrase, "Never forget where you're from" on his neck.
He comes off as a humble and quiet person, having been pictured continuing his friendship with his former German youth international teammate, Jerome Boateng, and Wolfsburg teammates Edin Dzeko and Sascha Riether. He frequently attends charity events, notably for the Shooting Star Children's Hospice.
In May 2014, Dejagah donated his DNA profile for scientific research on sports-related injuries and training.As of 13 December 2014
Scores and results list Iran's goal tally first.
UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship: 2009