Six Best Asian Footballers Ever
The continent of Asia boasts a proud footballing past that has seen them produce legendary footballers down the years. South Korea’s famous progress to the World Cup semifinals in 2022 got many talking and perhaps put them on the map even more.
Despite many to pick from, we will take a look at some of the most influential Asian stars to play the beautiful game. As some names in our list are still actively present, lovers of double chance betting can always expect some magic in the teams of those players, given that they always make a positive impact when called upon.
With the above in mind, here’s our pick for six of the best Asian footballers ever.
6. Shunsuke Nakamura
Well known for his technical skills and set piece prowess, Nakamura is highly adored among Celtic supporters and was a popular figure during his four year stint at the club. A notable high-moment of his time at Celtic Park came when he scored a brilliant free-kick against Manchester United in the 2006/07 edition of the Champions League. That goal happened to be the winning goal and saw his stock rise among the supporters.
In 2007, the Japanese enjoyed a stellar campaign where he won the PFA player of the Year and the Scottish Football Writers' Player of the Year awards. To cap it off, he was also shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or award. Surprisingly or not, Nakamura still plays for Yokohama at the age of 43.
5. Hidetoshi Nakata
Hidetoshi Nakata is without a doubt one of the best Japanese names to grace the sport. He was named the Asian Footballer of the Year twice and was also nominated for the Ballon d'Or on three occasions. His eye for a good pass and creativity in front of goal was top notch and second to none.
4. Park Ji-sung
Park Ji-sung is perhaps one of the most popular names on this list. He is well known for his exploits with Sir Alex Ferguson's iconic Manchester United side. He was also the first Asian player to win the Champions League when the Red Devils triumphed over Chelsea in 2008.
In fact, Sir Alex Ferguson described the South Korean as one of the most underrated players he had ever managed, recalling his side’s defeat to Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final as a point of reference.
"I should have changed at half-time and put Ji-sung Park on Messi. That was a mistake... I was going to do it at half-time, then I said, 'Well, we just equalized before half-time, they may see the game differently, we may grow into the game better.'
"We were actually quite good in the last 10 minutes of that half. We came into it and we could have been in front.
"But if I'd played Ji-sung Park against Messi, I think we'd have beat them. I really do."
Park was part of a famous side that won Premier League titles and like many others, he was also nominated for the Ballon d'Or in 2005. The midfielder was also starred in the famous South Korea side that made it to the semifinals of the World Cup in 2002.
3. Son Heung-min
He could yet end up as the best Asian footballer of all time in the nearest future. Since completing a move to Tottenham in 2015, Son has made a name for himself as one of the finest players in the Premier League and in the world.
The South Korean placed 22nd in the 2019 Ballon d'Or and that ranking is the highest an Asian has ever managed. Son also claimed the Puskas award after a famous brilliant solo goal in 2020 against Burnley. At the moment, he is the most popular Asian in world football.
2. Paulino Alcantara
Paulino Alcantara was a very prolific name in Barcelona and had a reputation as a specialist in front of goal. A respectable tally of 143 goals in 395 games for the Spanish giants puts him as the seventh on the all-time list of the club’s top scorers, alongside some esteemed company.
Having made his debut for Barcelona at the age of 15 in 1912, he remains the youngest goalscorer for the Catalans.
1. Cha Bum-kun
With 58 goals scored in 136 games, Cha Bum-kun is the all-time highest goalscorer for South Korea. He was also the youngest player to hit 50 international goals, managing to do so at the age of 24.
In the 1980s, he showed what he was made of and was literally one of the most feared forwards in world football. He is renowned for his blistering place and shot power, which enabled him bag just two shy of 100 Bundesliga goals in spells with Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt. In typical fashion, he led both sides to UEFA Cup glory. A goal-laden 13-year career saw him crowned the Asian player of the century.
Special mention - Kazuyoshi Miura might not have made our list but it would be cruel not to give him a mention. He is famously known as the oldest player and goalscorer in professional football. You’d be surprised to know that he’s still actively playing for Yokohama FC in the Japanese top flight. Guess what, he’s only 55! Miura has done it all in football and is currently Japan’s second all-time top scorer, with 55 goals scored in 89 games.