For someone who would come to deeply resent some of the attacks against Ghotbi, I must admit that my first impression of him was not all that positive. That was several years ago, a few years before Ghotbi returned to his native homeland to coach Perspolis. At the time, he seemed to be between jobs and was looking to get hooked up in some capacity with Iran's national team. He was appearing as a guest commentator on some Farsi language, satellite television, sports programs in Los Angeles. Without their jersey numbers to match to their names, at the time even some of Iran's better known players were obviously unknown to Ghotbi. Coupled with his difficulty speaking in his native tongue, Ghotbi to me seemed to be a foreigner looking for a job in Iran! His only advantage compared to any other foreigner was his Iranian name and his broken and barely intelligible Farsi. Otherwise, I was quite disappointed seeing someone with Ghotbi's background appear so clueless about Iran's football team. And have such difficulty even speaking in his native tongue. Even my next impression of Ghotbi remained less than positive. When he was invited to come to Iran to coach Perspolis, some folks found video clips of Ghotbi from Iran's match against South Korea in the 2004 Asian Cup, which they posted on the internet. At the time, Ghotbi was sitting on South Korea's bench as an assistant coach. And the clips I remembered showed Ghotbi cheering South Korea with a bit more enthusiasm than I would have thought appropriate. Those clips merely reinforced my view that Ghotbi was no Iranian. But if Ghotbi never quite became fluent in Farsi, even if his Farsi did improve, and even if Ghotbi never made me think that he was an Iranian nationalist, even if he had been thrust to carry to mantle for Iran as our coach, during his time in Iran, Ghotbi did show himself to be a knowledgeable coach and an even better manager. He did alright in terms of results as well, at least compared to any legitimate expectations that we might have had. To be sure, Ghotbi was no revolutionary: he helped conceal some of our weaknesses and kept Iran from descending to lower tiers in Asian football. He did so while showing class and manners, despite being so unfairly attacked by a football culture that has become so vulgar. But no doubt we still don't have the titles that have eluded us for so long and, no doubt, despite Ghotbi, teams like South Korea and Japan are getting ahead of us more clearly than ever before. Still, if Ghotbi's tenure left any lasting marks, I hope it will in his attitude, his manners and mannerisms: In his American "can do" attitude, which is so at odds with the lessons learned from a culture which merely looks for excuses to blame someone else for failure. His refusal to get negative and his emphasis on the positive. The fact that even in his broken Farsi, he came across more articulate and more inspiring than so many who can speak no other language but are so vulgar in the one language they do speak. Even if that is all Ghotbi left for us, that is still plenty. Hence, I thank him for doing his job well enough and wish him luck.