Top 15 Asian Football Players Ever

Who is the best Asian football player of all time?

The quality of football in Asia may not be as great as in European or South American countries. However, there are also some great Asian players whose level can be compared to world-class footballers from Europe and South America. Those players possess outstanding individual football skills, some of them even play for the world's best football teams.

In this article, I present a list consists of fifteen greatest Asian footballers. Indeed, it was very difficult for me to pick fifteen among hundreds of great football players from Asia. I had to exclude some famous name such as Ali Karimi, Keisuke Honda, Park Chu-Young, and many other talented players. Among them, which one is your favorite? Be sure to vote for your favorite at the end of this article.

15. Ali Al-Habsi

Ali Al-Habsi is the only goalkeeper that I included in the list of best Asian footballer of all time. Ali, who originates from Oman, has become Wigan Athletic first-choice goalkeeper since 2010. He showed some pretty impressive performances in the 2012-2013 season. Unfortunately, the club was relegated from the English Premier League. However, Al-Habsi managed to show a pretty impressive feat in the season, helping Wigan win the FA Cup by defeating Manchester City in the final match.

14. Khodadad Azizi

Azizi is a retired Iranian player who participated in the Asian Cup 1996, 1998 World Cup and Asian Cup 2000. This small-statured striker was also named the best player of Asia in 1996. In addition to his glorious careers in Iranian League, Azizi also joined a German club, FC Koln He played for the club for three years along with his country mates, Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri. At the club, Azizi scored 10 goals from 50 appearances. After his period at FC Koln, he played in the United States Soccer League and Austrian League before retiring in 2006.

13. Junichi Inamoto

Junichi Inamoto is one of the best Asian football players who was ever transferred to a big European club. Arsenal signed him in 2001. Unfortunately, before he could play for this club, Inamoto's contract was canceled. He was later loaned out to Fulham, and managed to have a pretty good career. This Japanese midfielder helped Fulham win Intertoto Cup in his first season. Inamoto made remarkable performance for the club when he scored a hat trick in the final of the tournament.

12. Ahn Jung-hwan

Ahn Jung-hwan is a retired South Korean striker who showed great performances in the World Cup 2002. He managed to help his country to a fourth place finish, the highest position ever achieved by Asian countries in World Cup history. Ahn also scored a beautiful goal that eliminated Italian football team from this tournament. However, his career at European clubs (Perugia, Metz and Duisburg) did not go well because he was more often given a role as a substitute and rarely scored goals when he had chances to play.

11. Cha Bum-Kun

Cha Bum-Kun is a former South Korean striker who had a very brilliant career in the German League. He was also selected as the Best Asian Footballer of the 20th Century by IFFHS. With a record of 55 goals from 121 appearances, until now Cha is still listed as the top scorer of the South Korean national team of all time. Throughout his career, Cha won two UEFA Cups with two different teams, Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen.

10. Kazuyoshi Miura

Until now, Kazuyoshi Miura (also known by the nickname "Kazu") is referred to as Japan's best footballer of all time. Born in 1967, to this day the Miura is still actively playing as a professional footballer. In addition to scoring 55 goals in 89 appearances for the national team of Japan, Miura also helped the country win the Asian Cup in 1992. Not only his outstanding soccer skills, Miura's love and dedication to the world of football also become the biggest sources of inspiration for Japanese young footballers.

9. Paulino Alcantara

As a Philippines citizen, Paulino Alcantara is the only Southeast Asian player who is included in this list. Paulino spent most of his career which lasted from 1912 until 1927 at Barcelona. Until now, he recorded a feat as the youngest player ever to play for Barcelona, at the age of 15 years old. As a striker, Alcantara scored a lot of goals. In total, he netted 369 goals in 357 matches.

8. Hong Myung-Bo

Hong Myung-Bo is a retired center back who became the leader of the South Korea national football team's defensive line for 12 years. This player also served as a captain of the team that finished fourth in the 2002 World Cup. Not only that, in the tournament Myung-Bo won the Bronze Award or award for the third best player of the tournament. He ended his career with a record of 136 appearances and scored 10 goals for South Korea national football team.

7. Shunsuke Nakamura

Shunsuke Nakamura is a Japanese midfielder who is famous for his free kick skills that often lead to beautiful goals. Due to his skill, Nakamura is dubbed as Andrea Pirlo from Asia. The pinnacle of success in his career was when he played for Glasgow Celtic from 2005 to 2009. At the club, Nakamura won three Scottish league titles. At national team level, Nakamura scored 24 goals from 98 matches and won the Asian Cup twice.

6. Mehdi Mahdavikia

Mahdavikia was known as a very agile winger. This player was also selected as the best Asian player in the year 2003. On the pitch, Mahdavikia always showed good dribbling skills. From the right side of the pitch, he often sent deadly crossings that resulted goals for his team. He spent eight-year career at a German club, Hamburger SV, winning a DFB Pokal trophy and one Intertoto Cup.

5. Sami Al-Jaber

Sami Al-Jaber is a former Asian footballer who was highly praised by the Asian community. He led Saudi Arabia reach the second round of the 1994 World Cup. The attacker spent 20 years of his career as a professional player at Al Hilal, scoring 143 goals in 305 appearances. Al-Jaber capped 156 times and netted 46 goals for his country. Just before his retirement, the striker briefly played for an English club, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

4. Shinji Kagawa

Shinji Kagawa deserves to be included in the list of Asia's best players of all time, especially after he helped Borussia Dortmund claim Bundesliga championsips twice in a row in the 2010-2011 season and 2011-2012 season. His brilliant performance made Manchester United sign him from Dortmund with considerably high transfer value. At Manchester United, the player won the Premier League 2012-2013 season. In his current club, Kagawa is usually positioned as an attacking midfielder or a winger.

3. Hidetoshi Nakata

Nakata is a retired Japanese center midfielder who performed really well when he played for Perugia and Roma in the early 2000s. At Perugia, Nakata scored 12 goals in 48 appearances. Due to his great and convincing performance at Perugia, Roma decided to sign Nakata. Although he spent most of the time sitting on the bench, Nakata several times scored important goals that helped Roma to be a Serie A champion in the 2000-2001 season.

2. Park Ji-Sung

In terms of skills of skills, Park Ji-Sung is indeed the best when compared to other names in this list. He can play in almost any position in midfield. Park can be positioned as a winger, defensive midfielder, playmaker, or even a second striker. After undergoing a glorious career with PSV Eindhoven, Park moved to Manchester United. He underwent a seven-season career with the Red Devils and won numerous prestigious awards, including four Premier League titles and one Champions League trophy.

1. Ali Daei

Considering his individual and team achievements as well as statistical records, it seems very appropriate to give the title of the best Asian football player of all time to Ali Daei. He was a complete striker with remarkable finishing, positioning, and off-the-ball movement. His 109 goal tally for Iran national football team is still number one in the world. Daei was also awarded as the best player of Asia in 2009, and often regarded as the greatest Iranian footballer of all time. He spent some period of his career playing in German League for three different clubs; Bayern Munich, Armenia Bielefeld and Hertha Berlin. Throughout his club career, Daei scored 112 goals in 287 matches.
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