By Pejman Rahbar & Peter Staunton
Persepolis striker Eamon Zayed is thrilled to be named Goal.com's World Player of the Week.
The Ireland-born forward scored a hat-trick in the Tehran derby defeat of Esteghlal on Thursday in the most dramatic of circumstances to take his place as the first Persian Gulf Cup-based recipient of the award.
Zayed, who joined Persepolis in December after leaving Derry City, appeared as a second-half substitute with Esteghlal 2-0 to the good. Persepolis were consigned to 10 men and a victory looked improbable.
Nonetheless, the 28-year-old Zayed took the Azadi Stadium by storm by rattling in a nine-minute treble, including a smart winner in the third minute of stoppage time. In doing so, Zayed became the first-ever foreigner to score a hat-trick in the derby, one of the world's most fiercely-contested.
The Libya international has confirmed his status as a Persepolis folk hero just two matches into his stint in Iranian football and is delighted with the impact he has made since arriving from Ireland.
He told Goal.com: "It's obviously a great honour to be selected as the first-ever player from the Iranian League. When you consider some of the big names that have played here, take Ali Karimi as an example, it makes the selection all the more pleasing so thank you to all at Goal.com for picking me.
"All three goals were different, which was pleasing. The first one was definitely the most important as it gave everyone a lift and the belief to go on and get something from the game. However my third goal, the winning goal, was my favourite. I felt it was the best of the three and the fact it was in the 92nd minute, to win the game, made it that bit more special.
"I am fully aware that there will be huge expectations on me to keep repeating that feat but I obviously cant score a hat-trick every game. I am confident in my ability as a goalscorer and hopefully I will score many more goals as a Persepolis player between now and the end of the season.
"I have been impressed by the quality of the Iran league so far. There are some very tough teams and technically most players here are very decent. Persepolis have an amazing fan base which is a huge positive. The passion shown towards the league here by people in Iran is great."