Tasnim – KUALA LUMPUR, Ali Daei, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Vahid Hashemian, and Ashkan Dejagah are among the top 10 Asian players who played in Germany’s Bundesliga.
For more than 40 years, Asian players have starred in the Germany top-flight football. From pioneers like Okudera and Cha to modern-day icons like Mahdavikia and Kagawa, some of Asia’s greatest footballing names have been made not only in national team colours, but also in packed stadiums from Bremen to Bavaria.
Famous the world over for his exceptional goal-scoring record in international football. Daei also played a pioneering role in the club game as one of several Iranian stars to make the move to Germany in the late 1990s.
While he wasn’t as prolific in the Bundesliga as he was for the national team, Daei still experienced several memorable highs.
He was part of the Bayern squad which won the league title in 1999 and scored against both AC Milan and Chelsea, twice, in the following season’s UEFA Champions League before returning to Asia in 2002.
Introduced to German football by Bochum following Iran’s appearance at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, it was Mahdavikia’s eight fruitful seasons in Hamburg which cemented the winger/full-back as a Bundesliga star.
A provider of more than 50 Bundesliga assists – leading the league with 14 in 2002-03 and backing up with another nine the following season – Mahdavikia helped his club to regular European appearances and won admiration throughout the continent for his attacking qualities.
One of several Iranian stars who made Germany home in the late 90s and early 2000s, Hashemian played for four clubs, including nine league appearances for title-winning Bayern Munich in 2004-05, but his best football came during his time at VfL Bochum.
After helping them to promotion from the second tier two seasons prior, Hashemian’s 16 league goals during the 2003-04 campaign took him to fourth on the scoring charts and helped Bochum to fifth on the league table – equaling their best ever Bundesliga finish.
Born in Tehran and raised in Berlin, Dejagah was a regular German youth international in his teens before becoming a star in the Bundesliga, as well as the Iranian national team, in his twenties.
A scorer and provider of goals from midfield, Dejagah is one of three Asian players to have helped Felix Magath’s unheralded Wolfsburg outfit from fifth place to a surprise title in 2008-09, and also made a name for himself in the English Premier League with Fulham.
The Iranian players will vie with Cha Bum-kun (Korea Republic),Yasuhiko Okudera (Japan), Makoto Hasebe (Japan), Koo Ja-cheol (Korea Republic), Shinji Kagawa (Japan) and Son Heung-min (Korea Republic) to be named as the greatest player.