15 Best Asian Goalkeepers in the History of Football

Who is the greatest Asian goalkeeper of all-time?

In my humble opinion, the world of football in Asia is quite interesting. Although the football competitions in this continent are still not as good as in Europe or South America, there is a special attraction in it. Through this article, I want to show you some of the greatest charms of Asian football by discussing 15 best goalkeepers of all time from this continent. Not only possessing great individual skills, some names on this list even joining reputable clubs in the European League.

Just a side note, I did not include the names of Australian goalkeepers such as Mark Schwarzer and Mark Bosnich, although the country is part of Asian Football Confederation (AFC). So, which goalkeeper deserves the title as the best in Asia? Find the answers in the article and be sure to vote for your favorite!

15. Lionel Lewis

Lionel Lewis is a former Singaporean goalkeeper who played in the 2001-2011 period. In 2006, he created a record as the only player in Southeast Asia to be nominated for Asian Footballer of the Year award. Lewis also performed brilliantly in the 2004 Tiger Cup, where he helped his country win the tournament and selected as the MVP of the competition. In total, Lewis capped 73 times for Singapore national football team.

14. Peter Thangaraj

Thangaraj was the mainstay of Indian national football team for nearly two decades. He represented his country in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics and helped his country win the 1962 Asian Games held in Jakarta. Not only that, Thangaraj was also selected as the best Asian goalkeeper of 1958. He was not only formidable in protecting his goal, but also possessed very good leadership quality. Throughout his career, he several times captained Indian national team in various international tournaments.

13. Jiang Jin

Jin Jiang was the first-team goalkeeper of China national team in the 2002 World Cup. Although his performance in the tournament was not too good and conceded nine goals, he still deserves the title as the best Chinese goalkeeper of all time. His best achievement was helping his country claim the bronze medal of 1998 Asian Games. Not only that, Jiang Jin also performed brilliantly in the 2000 Asian Cup, where he was selected as the Best Goalkeeper and led his country reach the semi-final round.

12. Chow Chee Keong

Chow Chee Keong was nicknamed "Asian Stainless Steel Gate" because of his toughness as a goalkeeper. Being born as a Malaysian citizen, Chee Keong spent most of his professional career playing in the Hong Kong League. He made his debut for the Malaysian national team at the age of 15 years, making the record holder of the youngest Malaysian player ever to play in an international match. Not only that, Chow Chee Keong also five times in a row claim the title of AFC's Best Goalkeeper from 1966 to 1970.

11. Roni Paslah

Not many goalkeepers in the world could save Pele's penalty kicks, and one of the few goalkeepers was Roni Paslah. Playing for the Indonesian national team in a friendly match against Brazil in 1972, Paslah successfully blocked the football legend's penalty kick. He performed brilliantly in the match, and managed to help his country only to lose to Brazil by a score of 1-2.

10. Amer Shafi

Due to his big, tall stature; Amer Shafi was dubbed the "Whale of Asia." Shafi is the first team goalkeeper of Jordania national team who made his debut in 2002. Although he is bulky, Amer Shafi is very agile and often performed various acrobatic saves. He even received several offers to play in the Europa League, but then rejected it because of personal reasons. His best performances can be watched in the highlights of Asian Cup 2004 and 2011. In my personal opinion, Shafi definitely deserves to be included in the list of top 50 greatest Asian footballers ever.

9. Mansur Faqiryar

Mansur Faqiryar is an Afghanistan national team goalkeeper who began his career in a German amateur club in 2005. Since then, he had a career at lower division clubs of German League, such as FC Oberneuland, Goslarer SC, and VfB Oldenburg. His performance started to gain attention from the pundits when he was selected as the best player of SAFF 2013, the biggest international football tournament in South Asia.

8. Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh

Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh was the number one goalkeeper of Iran national team in the 1998 World Cup. In the tournament he performed brilliantly although his country was eliminated in the first round. Due to his prowess as a goalkeeper, Abedzadeh was dubbed the "Asian Hawk." He was also known as a player with great leadership quality. At the club level, Abedzadeh won six Iranian League titles and an AFC Asian Champions Cup trophy.

7. Noor Sabri

Noor Sabri will always be remembered by the fans of Asian football due to his heroic performances that aided Iraq national team win the Asian Cup in 2007. In this tournament, he only conceded two goals, a record that has not been equaled by any Asian goalkeeper. Not only that, he also successfully led the his country ranked fourth in the 2004 Olympics. Throughout his career in the 2002-2013 period, Sabri played in 94 matches for his country.

6. Eiji Kawashima

Eiji Kawashima is one of the most successful Asian goalkeepers in the European League. He started his career outside of Japan in 2010 when he joined a Belgian League club, Lierse. During two years of joining the club, he was also elected twice as Lierse SK's Player of the Year. His career with the Japanese national team was also glorious. He helped his country win the 2011 Asian Cup, chosen as man of the final match of the tournament, and even saved Frank Lampard's penalty kick in a friendly match against England.

5. Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi

Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi is often regarded as one of Japan's best footballer of all time. He represented his country in four World Cup tournaments and won two Asian Cup trophies. Not only that, Kawaguchi also briefly joined a Premier League club, Portsmouth, in the period 2001 to 2003. Although he was more widely used as a backup goalie, Kawaguchi much loved by the club's fans. Throughout his career, he played in 116 games for Japan national football team.

4. Ali Al-Habsi

Ali Al-Habsi began his career in Europe with a Norwegian League club, Lyn, in 2003. The Omani goalkeeper earned a place in the first team since his debut season, and he was even won the Norwegian Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2004. His career faded when joining Bolton Wanderers then soared again when he moved to Wigan Athletic in 2011. Al-Habsi helped Wigan win the FA Cup in the 2012-13 season and was named Wigan Athletic player of the Year 2011. Not only that, during his career at Wigan he was able to save approximately 50 percent of penalty kicks, some of them were taken by world-class players such as Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, and Robin van Persie.

3. Naser Hejazi

Naser Hejazi is a legendary Iranian footballer who played in the period 1968-1980. He played in one World Cup, two Olympic Games, and won two Asian Cup trophies. He also underwent a trial period with Manchester United for a few months, but failed to join the club due to work permit issues. Throughout his career, Hejazi represented Iran national team in 62 international matches.

2. Mohammed Al-Deayea

Al-Deayea shocked the world with his brilliant performances in the 1994 World Cup. In the tournament, he successfully helped his country advance to the second rounds, eliminating some strong countries such as Morocco and Belgium. Throughout his career from 1989 to 2010, Al Deayea represented his country in four World Cup tournaments and won an Asian Cup trophy in 1996. Not only that, he was also selected as the best Asian goalkeeper of the 20th century by IFFHS.

1. Lee Woon-jae

The existence of Lee Won-jae as a goalkeeper was one of the most important strengths South Korea national team in the 2002 World Cup. In the tournament, South Korea successfully advanced to the semi-finals rounds and Lee Won-jae played a major role in helping his country beat Spain on penalty shoot-out. Throughout his career from 1994 to 2002, Woon-jae capped 132 times for his country, recording a total of 55 clean sheets. He was also named the K-League Most Valuable Player in 2008 when he played for Suwon Bluewings.

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