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Navid Nasseri prepares for pivotal campaign at Gillingham

Given a good few years of football, young Gills signing Navid Nasseri could find himself on the big stage in four years time

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While the Iranian national football team qualified for their second World Cup finals in succession, Gillingham midfielder Navid Nasseri could well have aspirations to join the squad for 2022 tournament in Qatar.

The attacking midfielder impressed enough during a brief trial period at Priestfield during the second half of 2018 to earn a permanent contract at the club and, like all Gills players, the 2018/19 season will be an important one for him.

Unlikely journey

Born in Manchester but qualified to play for an Iranian side whom he has already represented at Under-21 level, Nasseri has taken a circuitous route to Gillingham but it’s hoped that he now has a more constant home where his game can develop.

That development could then lead to full recognition for his adopted country. Iran travelled to Russia as 500/1 outsiders to win the tournament and few punters are even mentioning Carlos Queiroz’s side as part of their 2018 World Cup betting tips roundup.

That situation is unlikely to change even if the nation makes it to Qatar 2022 but Iran will be scouting for new talent over the next four years and Navid Nasseri may well fit their profile.

Early promise

Old Trafford, Manchester” (CC BY 2.0) by Sean MacEntee

Nasseri began with the Manchester United football academy and while he didn’t progress into the professional ranks at Old Trafford, that’s clearly a good grounding for any young player.

From there, it was on to Macclesfield Town via youth spells at Birmingham and Bury but, after failing to break through at Moss Rose, the midfielder looked to kickstart his career overseas.

Having trialled with Swedish clubs, Nasseri finally made his professional debut with Syrianska at the start of the 2017/18 campaign and went on to make 25 appearances for the Division One Norra side, scoring twice.

It may seem an unlikely grounding for a transfer to League One football down in Kent but Gills’ scouts had clearly seen enough to offer him a trial at the club.

Gillingham switch

Nasseri made his full debut for the Gills on March 10 and then scored on his first full start against MK Dons later that month. It was a positive start to life in League One for the 21-year-old who told the club’s official website that he could play out wide or as a central midfielder.

That versatility promised to be a useful asset for Steve Lovell as he looked to keep his team clear of the relegation zone but appearances and opportunities proved to be limited as the campaign drew to a close.

Lovell had, however, seen enough during this trial period to offer the youngster a longer-term proposition and Nasseri has now signed on a one year deal. It remains a relatively short contract so it’s an important season for the midfielder who says he wants 30 games to show the Priestfield faithful what he can do.

Iran’s midfield at Russia 2018 is an experienced one but it includes some players, including 34-year-old captain Masoud Shojaei, who are nearing the end of their playing time.

There will be vacancies and while international recognition may not be the first thing on Navid Nasseri’s mind, he’s quite possibly at a pivotal stage and 2018/19 could be a defining season in his career.