Football is the global game and that is as apparent in Southeast Asia as anywhere else. Here is FOX Sports Asia’s eleven made up of ASEAN stars who were born elsewhere but have made a name for themselves in the region.
GK: Neil Etheridge (Philippines)
The former Fulham goalkeeper can now be found between the sticks in England’s third tier for Walsall, another episode in what has already been quite a career in Europe as well as South-east Asia.
Now 27, the former England youth international made his international debut back in 2008 and starred two years later as the Azkals shocked their own fans as well as the whole of South-east Asia by reaching the last four of the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time.
LB: Matt Davies (Malaysia)
While he prefers to play on the right, the Australian-born defender can do left when asked, as he was during the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup by-then Malaysia head coach Ong Kim Swee. Has the kind of engine that every modern full-back needs and loves nothing more than getting forward to deliver balls into the danger zone.
CB: Daniel Bennett (Singapore)
The veteran centre-back made his debut for Singapore way back in 2002 and after a gap of three years, was recalled for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup. The former Walsall man soon showed why with a series of commanding performances, leading the backline with authority. Nobody has ever been able to question Bennett’s commitment to any cause as few have shown as much desire to win as this man from Great Yarmouth.
CB: Fahrudin Mustafic (Singapore)
It may be 36 years since the Tampines Rovers stalwart was born in Serbia, then Yugoslavia, and you can feel every single one when he crosses the white line.
He oozes experience and versatility, able to play at the back or as a defensive midfielder. Still hanging around the national team scene, he came off the bench in March’s 0-0 draw in Bahrain, and is still playing with distinction and determination.
RB: Tristan Do (Thailand)
The Paris born-right back has few peers in Asia especially when it comes to getting forward. Do loves nothing more than crossing the halfway line and then crossing into the area, time and time again. As well as a fine right-foot, he has a fine-tuned engine and the ability to make his mark in Asia and also return to the continent of his birth to try his luck in Europe.
MF: Stefano Lilipaly (Indonesia)
Indonesia surprised many by reaching the final of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup but had they know that this Dutch-born attacking midfielder was in such fine form then expectations may have been a little higher. His strike against Singapore in the final group game sent the Merah Putih in the last four and he was one of the best performers in the tournament.
MF: Charyl Chappuis (Thailand)
Chappuis has already had quite a career. Back in 2009, he was helping Switzerland win the Under-17 World Cup but the next time the cultured midfielder makes it to the global stage, he will do so as a Thailand international. After time in the Swiss leagues, Chappuis, now 25, came to Thailand in 2013 and helped Buriram United reach the last eight of the Asian Champions League.
MF: Brendan Gan (Malaysia)
The former Sydney FC star impressed as soon as he arrived in Malaysia in 2011 to sign for Sabah and would bring energy and solidity to this midfield. Well, he would if he were fit. Injuries ruled Gan out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup and he was missed by Malaysia. If he can return from his ACL injury at the same level, will have the pick of Malaysia’s clubs.
FW: Irfan Bachdim (Indonesia)
The title of the ‘Asian Beckham’ was a little too easily applied to this handsome Dutch-born winger. Popular off the pitch, there were accusations that Irfan was letting his fame and good looks get in the way of what could be a fine career.
A stint in Japan helped the skilful star buckle down and while injury ruled him out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup, the former FC Utrecht forward still has a bright future.
FW: Hoang Vu Samson (Vietnam)
The only one on this list who has yet to represent his country because that country used to be Nigeria. That is the sole reason stopping the most prolific goalscorer in the V-League’s history playing for Vietnam.
After the retirement of Le Cong Vinh as the country’s main goalgetter, this 28 year-old seems to be the answer but it remains to be seen if he gets the call. If he can replicate his goalscoring from the V-League on the international stage then Vietnam really would be a team to fear.
FW: Javier Patino (Philippines)
— FANS de Javi Patiño (@JaviPatz9) March 21, 2017
Had the Spanish-born forward been available for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup then the Philippines may well have got out of their group. Patino scores goals – he averaged more than one every other game for Buriram United in Thailand. He has also been more prolific than many bigger name stars in the Chinese Super League and fans back in the Philippines only wish he was available for selection more.