Europe is one of the best places to play football, and the Premier League is by far the most popular league in the world.
So, naturally, it attracts a lot of players from around the world to play in Europe and England, and if a player is worth the buck, the English clubs will be enticed to sign the player.
Traditionally, teams will acquire talent from well-known breeding regions such as Europe, South America, and, on occasion, Africa.
They do so because these regions have a sense of authenticity and credibility attached to them. in other words, the trust factor is higher because of the existing football culture that is present for years.
Now, this same credibility and trust are simply not present when it comes to the Asian markets, because they are relatively new to the game.
But, there always comes around a player once in a while who disproves this theory.
So, talking about such players, let’s have a look at some of the best Asian footballers to grace the Premier League.
The few exceptions that broke the Asian stereotype in England!
Maya Yoshida (Japan)
this Nagasaki-born has won 111 caps for the Blue Samarai, Now plying his trade in Italy at Sampdoria, Yoshida’s long service in the Premier League included spells at left-back, right-back, and in the center, finally making the latter position his own following Southampton’s sale of Virgil Van Dijk.
In 158 appearances over eight seasons, the Japanese defender was a model of consistency, blessed with an instinctive sense of danger and always on time in a tackle.
Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
High hopes greeted Kagawa’s move from Borussia Dortmund to England in 2012, but the Premier League and his flashy style of play proved a mismatch.
Indeed, after two seasons marred by injuries and mainly ineffective form, the offensive midfielder only made 38 appearances, with incoming manager David Moyes emphasizing that one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final ever singings did not sit well with him.
He does, however, deserve a spot on the list, and not just because of his talent.
Kagawa was the first Asian player to score a Premier League hat-trick and the first Japanese player to win the Champions League, capturing the trophy in Ferguson’s final season.
Sun Jihai (China)
Jihai created history when he joined Manchester City in the Premier League in 2002, becoming the club’s first Asian player. The Chinese defender made 151 appearances for Manchester City in all competitions, cementing his position in the club’s history.
Sun Jihai was the Premier League’s first-ever East Asian goal scorer.
Son Heung-min (South Korea)
This man needs no introduction, Son Heung-Min is one of the Premier League greats!
Son graduated from the academy of Hamburger SV in Germany. He spent three seasons with Hamburger SV’s senior team before joining Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga in 2013.
Son was an energetic player for the German club, and his contribution was critical in ensuring their place in the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League.
Son played 62 games and scored 21 goals for Bayer Leverkusen before moving to the Premier League to join Tottenham Hotspur in the 2015-16 season, and the rest is history!
Park Ji-sung (South Korea)
Park achieved his dream move to Manchester United in the Premier League in 2005 as a result of his great performances for PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League.
The South Korean, nicknamed ‘Three Lungs’ for his tireless work ethic, is the most successful Asian player in Premier League history, having won four league titles, the Champions League, four League Cups, and a FIFA Club World Cup during his seven years at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson appreciated Park for his man-marking ability and in-game intelligence, and the famous Scot once named Park and Ronny Johnsen as the two players he most trusted during his long reign at United.