Top 10 Greatest Asian Soccer Players of All Time

Find out the greatest footballers ever originated from the Asian continent.

The Best Asian Footballers of All Time

In Football, Asia may not be as strong as Europe and South America but that does not mean they have never produced great players in the history of football. There are a number of them surely not too popular as the other great European or South American players but they played great football in their era and this post, we look forward in making them known to you the best Asian footballers of all time.

Have you asked yourself who are the greatest Asian players of all time, as we said just above in this post , we are going to list the beat Asian football players who have ever existed.

Table of Contents

List of the Best Asian Soccer Players of All time in history of football

They can also be called the most famous or popular Asian footballers in history. And the players to be listed below as the best Asian players of all time are mostly originating from South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, even though we still have some from Japan , Australia and Uzbekistan.

1. Heung -min Son

Country: South Korea

Heung - min Son is the first player on the list who is still on duty as he plays for the Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs and continues to amaze football fans with his great skills on and off the ball. He is also the first South Korean player on our list of  best Asian football players of all time.

He also stands as the only Asian football player on our list to have played for only European clubs since the beginning of career as a footballer and now he plays for the top Premier League club Tottenham occupying the position of a forward.

At a given point in his career. he had also played with the German Bundesliga sides Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburger SV.

Regardless of his age and the fact that he has not yet still culminated in his career, but when it comes to individual honors, the player has many to his name like the best footballer in Asia for 6 years and also the Premier League goal of the Season in 2019 - 2020.

In the year 2019, he was also named as a Ballon dor nominee and this an achievement that only few Asian have ever been honored with in their career.

He is also the First Asian footballer to have scored more than 50 goals in the Premier League history.

2. Park Ji-Sung

Country: South Korea

Park Ji-sung was a tireless midfielder who enjoyed a successful career at the highest level. He won multiple Premier League titles with Manchester United and played a key role in South Korea's impressive World Cup campaigns.

Park Ji-Sung, the most decorated Asian soccer player in history, won a career-high 19 trophies in addition to countless other individual honors.

Ji-Sung originally gained notoriety in Holland, where he played for PSV Eindhoven for three seasons. In 2005, the South Korean icon transferred to Manchester United and rose to fame there. 

Ji-Sung, the first Asian player to win the Champions League, was a key player for Manchester United; his work ethic was unmatched, and his tenacity and endurance were astounding.

Ji-Sung, known as "Three Lungs" because of his extraordinary endurance, was frequently deployed to man-mark important opponents, pursuing them for 90 minutes across every blade of grass. Ji-sung was used in a variety of roles and excelled in each one, so anyone who thinks he was only a squad member is gravely mistaken.

Ji-Sung won four Premier League championships, three League Cups, a Champions League, and a FIFA World Club Cup in addition to helping his nation finish fourth at the 2002 World Cup, which, because it was hosted in South Korea, elevated the player to the status of a national treasure.

3. Hidetoshi Nakata

Country: Japan

Nakata was a skillful and versatile midfielder who played for clubs like Roma, Parma, and Bolton Wanderers. He played a pivotal role in introducing Japanese players to top European leagues and was a trailblazer for Asian footballers.

Hidetoshi Nakata was Japan's counterpart to David Beckham, a fashion symbol, media personality, and outstanding soccer player. He was an attacking midfielder with an unbelievable touch. Nakata played for Perugia, Roma, Parma, and Fiorentina, but is best recognized for his time spent playing in Italy. 

Nakata, a central midfielder by trade, excelled at advancing into risky areas of the field and has the vision and passing skills to breach rival defenses. Despite not being a prolific goal scorer, the Japanese international was frequently the focal point in midfield and would set up teammates.

Nakata, a huge star in his native nation, exhibited flare and flair both on and off the field.

Capped 77 times for Japan, Nakata almost single-handedly helped Japan to the 1998 World Cup, scoring five goals in qualifying before assisting in each of the three goals scored in a play-off against Iran.

4. Ali Daei

Country: Iran

Ali Daei holds the record for the most international goals scored by any player in the history of football. He scored an astounding 109 goals in 149 appearances for the Iranian national team and had a successful club career as well. Daei's achievements have made him an icon in Asian football.

After retirement, the former player would go on to become a successful manager, even taking the reins at Persepolis, one of his former clubs. Regarded as the best striker Iran has ever produced, Daei remains a hugely popular figure in Asian soccer.

5. Shunsuke Nakamura

Country: Japan

A current Yokohama midfielder with 25 years of experience, Shunsuke Nakamura has been playing professionally since 1997 and has represented clubs as diverse as Scotland and Spain. 

Nakamura has won the Scottish Premier League three times with Celtic and the AFC Asian Cup twice with Japan. The evergreen Nakamura has played most of his professional career in center midfield, where he is a creative midfielder with exceptional passing ability.

6. Majed Abdullah

Country: Saudi Arabia

Majed Abdullah, a tall, rangy striker from Saudi Arabia, had a great ability to consistently hit the target. Abdullah played 194 league games over the course of his 21-year career, scoring 189 goals while playing for Al-Nassr. 

Aside from that astounding figure, Abdullah participated in a huge number of matches for the Riyadh club and was also very active for his country's team. 72 goals in merely 117 games is a very good rate of return.

7. Ali Karimi

Country: Iran

Iranian soccer’s most outstanding playmaker, Ali Karimi, is often referred to as the Asian Maradona, such was his ability with a ball at his feet.

Spending most of his career playing in the Iranian Pro League and the UAE League, Karimi did spend several seasons in Germany and made 33 league appearances for Bayern Munich. 

Karimi was an excellent dribbler, with an eye for goal and a superb passing range that could unlock defenses at will. Making 127 international appearances, the Iranian legend scored 38 goals for Iran and appeared at five tournaments.

8. Tim Cahill

Country: Australia

Tim Cahill, probably the greatest Australian player of all time, is an example of the tough, combative players that Australia is known for creating. With 600 league matches and 150 goals towards the end of his career, Cahill was a superb attacking midfielder.

An established player in the English leagues, Cahill spent six years at Milwall before joining Everton, where he would go on to establish himself as a tenacious, goal-scoring forward.

The Australian international was a great header of the ball and frequently entered the penalty area after the shot had already been fired. 

Tim Cahill scored nearly one goal every two games while representing the Socceroos, with 50 goals in 108 appearances for Australia.

9. Hong Myung-Bo

Country: South Korea

Hong Myung-bo stands as the first South Korean player on this our list to be retired already and he is actually 52 years old of age.

During his career, except the for one season (2003- 2004) that he played for the American club LA Galaxy , for the all of his career he only played for Japanese and South Korean clubs but still even though he did not played a single year in Europe, he is still one of the famous Asian football players in history, but can you imagine how that can be possible? especially also taking into consideration the fact that he played as a defender and scored just 28 goals during the whole of his career.

But come to think of it, do you know that Hong Myung-bo is one of the only two Asian footballers to feature on the 100 list of the greatest living football players composed by the Brazilian Legend , Pele and the other Asian player on the FIFA 100 list is Hidetoshi Nakata from Japan.

He also a couple of honors to his name as ; the first footballer to have played in four consecutive FIFA Cups and another individual honor to him was in the year 2002 where he was given the World Cup Bronze ball award.

10. Yuto Nagatomo

Country: Japan

Another well-traveled Japanese international, Yuto Nagatomo, has had an excellent career as a full-back for teams such as Marseille, Inter Milan, FC Tokyo, and Galatasaray. A versatile player that could operate at both left, and right defensive positions, Nagatomo was a key player for Inter Milan for seven seasons. 

On the international stage, Nagatomo is one of the most capped players in Japanese history, with a well-deserved 137 caps. Currently, back at FC Tokyo, the player is now in his 15th season as a professional. 

11. Mohamed Al -Deayea

The next on our list of best Asian football players of all time, Mohamed AL Deaya who is a 48 year old retired Saudi Arabian goalkeeper and also know as the best Asian goalkeeper of all time.

In fact in the year 1999, he was named the best Asian goalkeeper of the Century by the International Federation of football history and Statistics along side the Iranian goalkeeper Nasser Hejazi and the South Korean goalkeeper In-Young Choi directly behind him occupying the second and third spot respectively.

Mohamed Al - Deaya during his career never played for any European club but played the whole of his career in his country Saudi Arabia where  he played for two clubs in his career ( Al- Ta'ee and Al - Hilal) and he played for both clubs almost for the same length of time, 10 and 11 years in the clubs respectively.

The Asian goalkeeper won the majority number of his trophies in at AL - Hilal where he won a total of 17 trophies including 4 Saudi Arabia Premier League titles.

At the international Level, AL - Deayea won a total of five trophies with the Saudi Arabian national team which are ; 1 AFC Asian Cup and 2 Gulf Cup of Nations trophies from 1994 and 2000.

The Best Asian Football Players of All Time

12. Mehdi Mahdavikia

He features on this list of best Asian football players of all time as the first Iranian footballer. He is actually a 43 years old retired Asian player who played for the two Bundesliga clubs named Hamburger SV and Eintracht Frankfurt aside from the Iranian clubs he played for during his career.

Even though he played for this two Bundesliga sides, he won the majority of his club trophies with the Iranian club Persepolis where he won 3 top Iranian League titles.

But he made the most number of appearances and scored the most of number of career goals in the Bundesliga club Hamburg SV where he registered a total of 265 appearances scoring 34 goals for the the Bundesliga club.

In the year 2002, Mehdi Mahdavikia was named Bundesliga top assists provider and he was so good and skillful at the club that he was named on the Hamburgs all time team in the year 2012.

The Best Asian Football Players of All Time

In  a total of 11 appearances for the Iranian national team, he stands as the 4th most capped Iranian player of all time.

Final Thoughts On Top 10 Greatest Asian Footballers of All Time

These players have not only achieved success on the football field but have also had a profound impact on their respective countries' footballing culture. They have inspired generations of Asian footballers and created a lasting legacy in the sport.

Please note that this is a subjective list based on personal opinions and there may be other players worthy of recognition as well.

I hope you find this article informative! If you have any more questions or need further information, feel free to ask.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the best Asian footballer in history?

With 19 trophies to his name, Park is the most successful Asian player in football history. He is the only football player from Asia to have won the UEFA Champions League, to have participated in a UEFA Champions League final, and to have taken home the FIFA Club World Cup.

Who was the first Asian player in Premier league?

Jimmy Carter, who had played in the Premiership in 1991, had Indian heritage and was therefore the first British Asian to play in that league.

Who was the only African to win a Ballon d Or?

George Weah- the only African winner of the Ballon d'Or.

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