USA-born Beitashour ignoring politics with Iran

The MLS defender will represent Iran at the 2014 World Cup.

America-born Iran defender Steven Beitashour is ignoring political tensions between the two nations as he prepares to fulfil his dream.

The 27-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps defender is in Iran's 23-man squad for the FIFA World Cup, but often fields questions regarding his background and upbringing.

Tensions between the United States and Iran - the native country of Beitashour's parents - have been high for some time, but the player says he does his best to avoid talking about such issues as football draws his full focus.

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"I know that my situation is unusual, but for me it is only football. It's something I love doing," he told Globo Esporte. "So every time you talk about politics with me, I prefer to return to football. I try to avoid it to the fullest. I just want to play football and have fun.

"Playing a World Cup is a dream come true. I did not think it would happen to me, and it is happening. I cannot describe (my feelings), but I'm too excited."

His friends and family will be watching and cheering him on, Beitashour said, even if they're not Iranian. 

"All people supported me and were also animated. My parents were born in Iran, but I have many relatives in the United States," he said. "I enjoy the best of both worlds. I play for Iran but was born and raised in the United States. The same way I celebrate the important Iranian dates, I also celebrate Christmas and other American holidays.

"It's fun. I feel like an Iranian-American. I was born in the United States, but my parents, traditions and my blood are Iranian."

Beitashour had a few chances to get into Jurgen Klinsmann's USA squad but is happy with his decision to represent Iran.

"In 2011 they contacted me," he said. "Speaking about their interest for me to go to Iran was all very exciting, since playing for a national team is the maximum level that can be achieved.

"Everyone called me, sent emails. The following year was one of my best professionally, and then came the interest of the United States. The process would have been easier, but I'm where I want to be."

Iran opens its World Cup campaign Monday with a game against Nigeria in Curitiba.