AFC – KUALA LUMPUR, With another off-season in Europe likely to see more movers and shakers – and several Asians set to head west – the-AFC.com looks back at five of the biggest signings involving Asian players.
Ali Daei (Arminia Bielefeld to Bayern Munich)
Four goals in a 6-2 quarter-final win over Korea Republic in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup shot Islamic Republic of Iran legend Ali Daei to the attention of German side Arminia Bielefeld, who made a double swoop for the forward and countryman Karim Bagheri.
But it was a year later that Daei sealed the biggest move an Iranian player has ever made when he signed for Bayern Munich, where he would become the first person from his country to appear in the UEFA Champions League.
Ali Daei won the AFC Player of Year in 1999
In truth, the forward found life hard at Bayern and predominantly was left on the bench in the side’s run to the 1998-99 final, but he did manage six goals in his season at the club before Hertha Berlin brought Daei to the German capital.
Two goals in a UEFA Champions League win over Chelsea and another in a 1-1 away draw at AC Milan in 1999 marked the high point for Daei, before he returned to Asia – with Al Shabab in the United Arab Emirates – in 2002.