Qotbi back with Iran's Persepolis

Iranian-American football coach Afshin Qotbi has signed a new contract with Iran's league champions Persepolis, just a month after he quit the club for family reasons, media reported Sunday.

The flamboyant Qotbi had won a massive following last season after returning to Iran from the United States and winning the league title and his abrupt departure caused great disappointment among Iranian football fans. But Persepolis lured him back with a new two-year contract reportedly worth an annual 800,000 dollars that was signed on Thursday, Iranian news agencies reported.

Before leaving Iran on Saturday, Qotbi said the club's aim next season would be victory in the AFC Champions League. "When I started my job at Persepolis last season, I promised the fans that I would win Iran's league title and we did just that. Now, we are going to win the Asian Champions League and I think it's possible.

"I am so happy to come back to my homeland. Lionhearted Persepolis did a great job last season and has the potential to do it once again," the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

Qotbi previously worked with the US national team and football academy before a long stint assisting successive Dutch coaches Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and then Pim Verbeek at the South Korean national side.

Despite spending most of his life in the United States, Qotbi has insisted he is first and foremost an Iranian. "If you are born in a country and spent your childhood there you are from that country. I am always an Iranian," he told AFP in an interview in June.