Prominent Iranian football star dies of Covid-19 at 45

Iranian football legend Mehrdad Minavand lost his brief battle to coronavirus late on Wednesday. He was 45.

The former Iran international star, who also played for local and foreign football clubs, was hospitalized last week in Tehran after developing acute symptoms of the novel virus.

His death has been widely condoled in Iran and abroad, with his former teams and football organizations leading the tributes.

Persepolis, where he served both as a player and coach, in a statement said the veteran has "bid adieu to Iran and Persepolis," paying rich tributes to him.

FIFA also issued a statement, saying they are "heartbroken" over the death of Minavand, who helped Iran register its first-ever World Cup victory – 2-1 – against the USA in 1998.

The Asian Football Confederation in a statement extended "heartfelt condolences" to his family and friends.

Iran's Sports Minister Massoud Soltanifar in his message termed Minavand's demise "a great shock for the sports community" and said he was an ambassador of Iranian football overseas.

Mahmoud Vaezi, Iranian president's chief of staff, said the coronavirus pandemic has "snatched another important and popular face" while extending condolences over his death.

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