It’s an age old saying in Kolkata Maidan that the derby always produces a new hero. A certain Bhaichung Bhutia had announced himself in Indian football with a terrific hat-trick in the semifinal of the Federation Cup in 1994 helping East Bengal beat their rivals Mohun Bagan 4-1.
In a similar manner, Kiyan Nassiri of ATK Mohun Bagan grabbed the spotlight with a hat-trick against East Bengal on January 29, 2022. Nassiri was introduced as a substitute by coach Juan Ferrando at a time when the Mariners trailing by a goal to nil. The 21-year-old forward went on to grab the occasion by the proverbial collar. Three splendid swings of his boots and the boy with the famous surname had scored a hat-trick, swinging a nervous match completely into ATK Mohun Bagan’s favour.
It’s not everyday that you score a hat-trick and certainly not in the most glamorous fixture in Indian domestic football. As much as Kiyan Nassiri’s name rang around Kolkata, it was his surname that reverberated.
So who exactly is this young sensation of ATK Mohun Bagan? Let’s find out.
Son of an East Bengal legend
The new darling of ATK Mohun Bagan was born on November 17, 2000 in Kolkata to an Iranian father and an Indian mother. His father Jamshid Nassiri hailed from Iran and had played professionally in Kolkata. His mother Suzanne was born and bred in the City of Joy.
Nassiri, along with his comrade Majid Bishkar, came to India in 1979 to pursue his studies in Aligarh Muslim University. A university blue, Jamshed, along with Bishkar, were spotted by the East Bengal recruiters and two friends joined the Red and Golds. Nassiri went on to become the second highest foreign goalscorer in the club’s history after Chima Okorie, with 75 goals to his name. Other than East Bengal, he also played for Mohammedan Sporting. Post retirement, he tried his hand in coaching and managed Mumbai-based Bengal Mumbai FC for three years between 1998-2001. He also briefly served Mohammedan Sporting as their head coach.
Mohun Bagan through and through
In 2014, Kiyan was called up for the Bengal U13 team where he played under Shyamal Banerjee at the Kalyani stadium. and that is where he caught the attention of Mohun Bagan academy recruiters.
After playing for Mohun Bagan in the nursery league for two years (2013-14, 2014-15), he joined Calcutta Football Club under the aegis of none other than his father. He also played for Mohammedan Sporting’s youth team.
In 2019 he rejoined Mohun Bagan’s U-19 side. Nassiri used to train in Mohun Bagan’s SAIL Academy in Durgapur under coach Jo Paul Ancheri.
Senior team promotion
Kiyan Nassiri was soon promoted to the Mohun Bagan senior squad. During the 2019/20 season, after his exploits for the Mariners’ junior team caught then coach Kibu Vicuna’s eyes. Nassiri’s talent was spotted during a junior tournament held in Kolkata. The Zee Bangla Football League, an U19 competition, was what propelled Kiyan into the senior team. He was mighty impressive there and caught Vicuna’s eyes. The Spaniard decided to promote the youngster to the senior squad.
Professional debut and I-League win
After impressing Kibu Vicuna in Kolkata with the senior Mohun Bagan squad, the Spanish coach decided to take him to Goa during the pre-season tour. He scored in a friendly against Salgaocar and put his best foot forward to make a place for himself in the I-League squad.
The skilful youngster made his professional debut for the Green and Maroons in an I-League tie against TRAU FC which Bagan won 3-1.
“He (Kiyan Nassiri) is a boy who has trained with us from the beginning of the season. He has improved very much. He has a lot of potential because he can play in a lot of positions. He can play as a striker, winger and even I think he can play as a right-back. He is strong, fast and he understands the game. He is an intelligent boy. I am happy that he made his debut because he deserved it,” Vicuna said back then.
Bagan went on to win the I-League that season, giving young Kiyan a first taste of senior silverware.
He continued with the team even after Bagan’s merger with ATK. He was amongst the three youngsters ATK Mohun Bagan decided to retain from the Bagan’s I-League squad – Sk Sahil, Kiyan and Shubho Ghosh.
He played his first match for ATK Mohun Bagan during the 2021 AFC Cup against Nasaf which the Mariners lost 6-0.
Never watched father’s goals
Kiyan has never had a chance to watch his father’s heroics on the Kolkata maidan because of the lack of proper match footage from that time. His recollection of his father’s goals and conquests remain in the form of stories.
“I have not got a chance to get hold of any footage. I have heard stories from various people and my father’s friends about the games back then so it makes me wonder how games were back then,” he said.
Kiyan in an Indian team jersey?
Young Kiyan might have just made his first significant step in his fledgling footballing career but his proud father is already dreaming of seeing Kiyan in an Indian team jersey.
Jamshid was also proud to see his son score a hat-trick for ATK Mohun Bagan.
“I am very happy. He changed the color of the game. I am proud,” Jamshid told Anandabazar after the derby.
“I want him to play for India one day. Let him play for the team and get success first. ”