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10 footballers of Pakistani descent who have made us proud [Express Tribune]

10 footballers of Pakistani descent who have made us proud [Express Tribune]

By Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad

Published by Express Tribune

Despite being a minnow in world football, Pakistan has a vibrant diaspora of footballers playing across Europe and Asia who are eligible to represent a ‘Pakistani football team internationally.

While some have already starred for the national team, others remain waiting for a call-up in the future.

Here is a list of the top 10 players of Pakistani-descent who have shown their magic in Europe and other countries.

Mohammad Ali (BK Avarta, Danish second division)

The former FC Copenhagen striker has already been capped by Pakistan, after making his debut in the friendly match against Singapore. Deemed as a superb find by the coaches, Ali cemented his place as a first-choice striker, after impressing fans with his dribbling abilities and commitment on the pitch during the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in March, 2013.

Mohammad Ali

However, due to an injury, ‘Mo’ missed the 2013 SAFF Championship in Nepal. He returned to feature in the Philippines Peace Cup in October, where his constant running and tactical movement earned Pakistan a credible win over the Chinese Taipei.

Yousuf Butt (Battle Ground Academy BGA, Denmark series)

Pakistan’s prayers were answered in 2011 when Yousuf Butt finally made his debut in the team for the Olympic side against Malaysia. The talented shot-stopper had been on the Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) radar for a long time but owing to technical difficulties, the PFF was unable to bring him in for the Asian Games squad for China in 2010.

Yousuf Butt

Nonetheless, since then, Yousuf has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in South Asia, where his goalkeeping skills have earned him the nickname ‘the wall’ from his fans. He has also received many man-of-the-match awards on different occasions.

Hassan Bashir (Fremad Amagar, Danish second division)

Bashir has been Pakistan’s main goal threat since his debut and has already scored three goals in 12 appearances so far. When the former FC Nordsjælland is not banging in goals, his match-winning assistance comes very handy for the team.

Hassan Bashir

Zesh Rehman (Pahang FA, Malaysian Super League)

Arguably the most high-profile player to play for Pakistan, Zesh made headlines when he debuted in the 2005 SAFF Championship. Although club commitments have prevented him from having a real impact on the international stage, the centre-back returned to action in 2013 and starred in the SAFF Championship, and later, went onto became Pakistan’s captain during the Philippines Peace Cup in October.

Zesh Rehman

Nabil Aslam (AC Horsens, Danish first division)

Nabil has already expressed his interest in representing Pakistan at an international level. He missed out on the SAFF Championship because his documents were not complete. Nonetheless, the defender brings heaps of experience to the ground and having played in the UEFA Europa League with Horsens, his potential centre-back pairing with Zesh Rehman is one which fans anticipate eagerly.

Nabil Aslam

Sami Malik (FC Energie Cottbus, second Bundesliga)

Sami won the U-16 Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin and later joining Eintracht Braunschweig before jumping ships to FC Energie Cottbus. Nonetheless, the attacker is highly rated by Pakistani scouts in Germany and he could be fast-tracked to the U-22 Pakistan team next year if the coaches decide to call him up for the AFC U-22 qualifiers in June.

Sami Malik

Ali Iqbal (Vålerenga, Tippeligaen Norway)

Having recently turned professional with the Norwegian giants, Ali Iqbal is a potential star for the future and could be seen in Pakistani colours. The talented youngster came through the ranks at Vålerenga academy, from where a number of other Pakistani players have also come through.

Ali Iqbal

Ghayas Zahid (Vålerenga, Tippeligaen Norway)

Like Ali Iqbal, Ghayas is also of Pakistani-descent and is currently involved with the first-team as he looks to cement his place at Ullevaal Stadion. Besides being a part of the Vålerenga, Ghayas has also played for the Norway U-19s.

Ghayas Zahid

Etzaz Hussain (Molde FK, Tippeligaen Norway)

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Etzaz has become a regular with Molde and has scored some cracking goals for the Norwegian title contenders as well. Having become the first player of Pakistani-descent to have played in the UEFA Europa League, Etzaz has high aims of making it to one of the major European football clubs.

Etzaz Hussain

With his mentor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer set for the Cardiff City job, one can only wonder if Etzaz could be coming to England once more, after previously playing for the Manchester United academy.

Adil Nabi (West Bromwich Albion, English Premier League)

After Zesh, Pakistan has been searching for Premier League class players and Adil Nabi could be just solution that the national team has been looking for. Adil graduated from the Hawthorns academy and was on the Premier League bench last season but an injury during pre-season training has kept him out of action till now.

Adil Nabi

The attacker is expected to return in March and although he has high aims of playing for England, the extremely high competition present means that a longer international career with Pakistan is a likelier possibility for him.

Adil is one of three brothers at West Brom. His younger sibling Samir signed professional terms with the Baggies recently and the youngest brother is still with the youth teams in England.

Irrespective of whether these players are currently playing for the national team or not, one cannot help but feel proud about the fact that 10 amazing football players, renowned internationally, are related to Pakistan.

This emphasises the fact that football should be encouraged among the locals too so that our team can compete head to head with other international ones in the global arenas. The one thing this list evidences is the fact that we definitely have the talent – all we have to do now is nurture it!

About Shahrukh Sohail

SRJ or more commonly referred to as Shahrukh outside FootballPakistan, is the current Chief Editor of FPDC and die-hard supporter of the Pakistan National Football Team. Away from Pakistani football, Shahrukh is an entrepreneur, a student and enjoys dominating the right-flank on the pitch.
  • Junaid

    bring them here with sweet talking :p

    • Shahrukh Sohail

      Yousuf, Hassan, Zesh and Ali are already with the National Team. Nabil should make his debut in the next game.

      The likes of Etzaz and Adil are for the future InshaAllah!

    • Shahrukh Sohail

      Yousuf, Zesh, Ali and Hassan already here. Nabil should make his debut in the next game.

      The likes of Etzaz and Adil for the future!

      • Numan Anjum

        when is our next game ????????

        • Shahrukh Sohail

          Possibly against Afghanistan at home in March.

      • Noman Ajmal

        what about Sami malik,ali iqbal,ghayas zahid and yaqoob butt(not mention here)?Do you think they will play for Pakistan except for Yaqoob who had made an app for Pak.
        it is also difficult for us to bring in etzaz and adil as our level is low but it is also a fact that if adil,etzaz,sami,ali iqlbal and ghayas plays for Pakistan then their international career will be prolonged.What do you think Shahrukh Sohail?

        • Shahrukh Sohail

          Of course. We would love to have Ali Iqbal, Ghayas Zahid, Etzaz Hussain and Adil Nabi in the future.

          However, for that you need to use the right approach and convince them with future plans.

          You can easily get Sami Malik for the Pakistan U-22 Team that will play later this year. He is not going to make it for Germany and would be willing.

          • Noman Ajmal

            do you think Ali iqbal,Ghayas Zahid will play for Pakistan as they are easy to convince as compared to adil and etzaz w.r.t quality

          • Shahrukh Sohail

            It is possible for everyone to play for Pakistan within reason if they don’t make it to their senior teams.

            But it depends on the Federation. All these foreign-based players have been scouted, contacted and brought by FPDC, not the Federation but we still don’t have any official recognition, which makes it difficult to convince top players on our own.

          • Noman Ajmal

            Hope that federation do its best in future to bring in these players to our national team

          • Mubashar Rehman

            Sami Malik and Adil Nabi will play for Pak but first, they will preffer to try for first team club football and international with Germany and England, respectively.

            Adil Nabi score 2 goals in a minute for England U17

            http://www.thefa.com/England/All-Teams/Players/N/Adil-Nabi

  • Kishtu

    Untold: The extraordinary stories of Pakistani legends
    http://www.dawn.com/news/1077535/untold-the-extraordinary-stories-of-pakistani-legends

    No footballers in this?

  • aqib

    bring them here and raise football ….. but i know even they come here results be same coz change managment first here and then bring them home if possible bring some managers and coaches as well .

    • Shahrukh Sohail

      We’ve never had enough of them to really make a difference. If we get all the ones that are available, then we can significantly improve our team.

      • Mubashar Rehman

        Pakistan is not yet attractive for them. They will come if their level decreases or Pakistani level increases significantly.