(CNN) -- Former Portugal and Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz has been handed the challenge of reviving Iran as an Asian soccer superpower and clinching qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The 58-year-old, best known for his time at Manchester United where he helped the English club win the European Champions League and three domestic titles as an assistant coach, arrived in Tehran on Monday to sign a three-year contract.
He is the first non-Iranian to be appointed since Croatia's Branko Ivankovic ended his second stint after the 2006 World Cup.
Queiroz had agreed to take the job in February but then changed his mind due to family reasons, the official IRNA news agency reported.
He had been without a job since September, when he was sacked by Portugal after a row with anti-doping officials before the 2010 World Cup. He was banned for six months, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport subsequently overturned that ruling last month despite agreeing that his behavior was unacceptable.
Queiroz was criticized by Portuguese media after the national team needed to go to a playoff to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa, where his side lost in the second round to neighbors and eventual champions Spain.
He takes over an Iran team which lost in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup in January under Iran-born U.S. national Afshin Ghotbi, who before the tournament agreed a deal to join Japanese club S Pulse afterwards.
The Iranians -- known as "Team Melli" -- begin their campaign to qualify for the 2014 event against the Maldives in July, having failed to win a place among the world's top 32 nations in South Africa.
"I am here in Iran to help the team make it to the 2014 World Cup. This is my most important aim and I hope with everyone's help we can make it," Queiroz said after signing his contract live on state television, according to ISNA.
"I know about expectations. One thing I can tell you is that everyone thinks that they can reach the four and win the World Cup. But let's be realistic. How many have won the World Cup? We need to plan for the near, mid and long terms."
Queiroz will earn a salary of about $2 million a year, according to the website of Iran's English language Press TV channel, as he seeks to restore the fortunes of a nation which won the Asian Cup three times in a row from 1968 and qualified for the World Cup for the third time in 2006.
"You need to put together talent, organization and order. The better you put them together, the more chances of success," he said.
"Everything is open and I need the support of Iranian coaches. Coaching is about adaptation. If you can't adapt, then you cannot work. After working in different places, I have good chances of adapting in Iran. I worked with players from different continents. I dream of working on the moon."
Queiroz first came to prominence as coach of Portugal's national youth teams where he helped uncover future stars such as Luis Figo and Rui Costa, but his first spell in charge of the senior side ended in failure after failing to qualify for Euro '92 and the 1994 World Cup.
After an unsuccessful spell as coach of Lisbon's Sporting, he took jobs in the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates before being hired by South Africa, but quit after leading the national team to the 2002 World Cup finals.
He was taken on by United manager Alex Ferguson and won the English Premier League title in his first season at Old Trafford before becoming the main man at Spanish giants Real Madrid..
Queiroz lasted only a season of his two-year contract after failing to win a major trophy with a squad featuring the likes of Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham -- who also moved from United in 2003.
He went back to Old Trafford to rejoin Ferguson in 2004, where further success saw him given the Portugal job again in 2008 on a four-year contract.