I think I used the art of friendly persuasion rather than an outright bribe on a friendly Sudanese doctor to get the certificate before flying up to Cairo, so I was well equipped when the Egyptian immigration official looked down his list of detainees and said, ‘Ah yes, Bahrami. Do you want him?’
‘Yes, please,’ I said quickly, and within a few minutes a remarkably unruffled Mansour appeared, picked up his tennis bag and went straight off to the Ghezira Club to practise. He needed to stretch his legs.
Bahrami was still playing under the Iranian flag at that time, but all that changed three years later when, in 1979, the Shah was ousted and tennis was banned by the new Islamic regime in Tehran which considered it an American capitalist sport.
‘I didn’t know what I was going to do,’ Bahrami told me when we recalled those dramatic days in Iran’s history in a recent phone conversation. ‘But I had a friend called Reza who knew someone high up in the Iranian Government, and I got a visa to travel to France and Switzerland.’
So in 1980, leaving his family behind, Bahrami fled to Paris, speaking only English and Farsi. A year later, at 11.51 on 31 December 1981 to be precise, fate took hold of his life. Turning onto the Champs Elysees, he got stuck in the inevitable New Year’s Eve traffic jam. ‘I didn’t know what to do,’ he recalled. ‘But I noticed this nice looking girl stuck in her car right next to me. So I leaned across and asked her if she spoke English. Luckily, she did.’