Tasnim – KUALA LUMPUR, Iranian players Javad Nekounam and Masoud Shojaei have been nominated as Asia’s greatest players in Spanish football.
La Liga, the top division of Spanish football, holds a place in the consciousness of fans throughout the globe, and it is also a nation which has played host to some standout players from the world’s largest continent.
In increasing numbers, Asian players are flocking to Spain, with some of the continent’s brightest prospects now making it their first port of call in European football.
With La Liga resuming this week, the-afc.com invites the fans to decide which Asian player has made the biggest impact in Spanish football.
Arriving in Spain just prior to his 26th birthday, Nekounam was an instant hit in a side which reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals, only for his progress to be suddenly halted by a serious knee injury.
That made the 2007-08 campaign a near write-off, but he returned to become a fan favorite in the city of Pamplona and regular goal scorer with a habit of netting late winners.
Iran has produced several outstanding players over the years. That no Team Melli player has bettered Nekounam’s 151 caps speaks volumes about his quality and longevity.
While Nekounam was the first Iranian player to shine in La Liga, Masoud Shojaei wasn’t far behind, and the duo created a unique Team Melli influence in northern Spain.
Often used as an impact player off the substitute’s bench, Shojaei was a reliable contributor of assists, particularly in his debut season where he created eight goals for his teammates.
A serious injury robbed him of the entire 2011-12 campaign, and his time in Spain finished in the Segunda Division with Las Palmas, but his tally of more than 100 appearances in the top tier outlines his quality as a player.
The Iranian duo has to vie with Wu Lei (CHN), Takashi Inui (JPN), Paulino Alcántara (PHI) and John Aloisi (AUS) to be named as the Asia’s Greatest Player.