World Cup Rising Stars: Hossein Kaebi

Position? Right-back. This is a tiny fleet-of-foot teenage starlet taking his place in Iran’s back four alongside more, ahem, seasoned professionals such as 34-year-old Yahva Golmohammadi, 30-year-old Rahman Razaei and Ali Badavi, a relative spring chicken at the age of 24.

Fleet of foot? Just how quick is he? He recently boasted: “I think I can do it in under 10 seconds!”

And that’s a boast? It is when he’s referring to the 100-metre dash. The Fifa website describes him as “one of the planet’s fastest footballers”. What on earth were you thinking of?

Never mind. Anyway, who does he play for? He’s been a regular in the Foolad side since his transfer from Esteghlal Javan’s youth team, and won his first international cap at the tender age of 17, having already progressed through the Under-23 squad. Now, at the grand old age of 19, his battling, tough-tackling playing style has been likened to Roberto Carlos’s, and he is rated very highly by Iran coach Branko Ivankovic, who admits that Kaebi is one of his favourites. He’s a favourite with supporters too, who admire his energy and commitment.

Wow. Someone that good must have been linked with a move to one of Europe’s leading clubs for a ridiculous amount of money. Well, almost. In 2003 he had a three-week trial with Wolves.

I see. It didn’t work out, then? Apparently not. He’s not too downbeat about it though, and reckons he’ll keep his head down and keep working towards a lucrative transfer. At the start of April he was linked with Arsenal, a switch which would fulfil his lifelong ambition, but he’s keeping calm about it. “It would be nice to have a chance to play with a top European club. That way I will quickly improve my skills, mentality and experience as well, but I know I am still young and I need to continue to work hard for that dream to come true.”

Bless. Sounds like a nice lad. His temperament is a bit suspect. According to the Iran fans’ messageboard, “his fierce and temperamental attitude could spell a big doubt on his undoubted ability to excel on the highest level”.

Oh dear. Do the supporters say anything else critical about him? “He is very slight and often falls over.” A bit of a problem for a right-back. If he was a striker, he could get away with being airy-fairy and spending half the match on the floor.

Like Emile Heskey? That’s harsh.

Or Andy “call me Andrew” Johnson? Enough.