There was a time in the year 2000 when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) embarked on the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme and brought in foreign players such as Mirko Grabovac, Egmar Goncalves and the Nigerian pair of Agu Casmir and Itimi Dickson to bolster the strength of the Singapore national team. Since then, the scheme has been used sparingly in Singapore, but other countries like Philippines have started adopting a similar scheme and have done well in regional competitions. With the standard of Asian football seemingly in the doldrums after all 4 Asian teams were eliminated in the Group Stages of the World Cup 2014, do you know of any uncapped football players that are currently plying their trade in the European leagues? Let’s find out.
1) Dion Cools – Malaysia
Born in Kuching, Malaysia to a Belgian father and a Malaysian mother, Dion currently plies his trades in Belgium for Club Brugge as a right back. He has represented Belgium both at Under-17 and Under-19 levels and has been called up to represent Belgium in the 2015 UEFA European Under-19 Championship Qualification. He could definitely help shore up the Malaysian defence if he opts to represent his country of birth.
2) Emil Audero Mulyadi – Indonesia
Currently only 19 years of age, which probably gives him another good 20 years for his career as a goalkeeper, Emil was born in Mataram, Indonesia to an Indonesian father and an Italian mother. Billed as one of the young Italy talents in 2012, Emil caught the eye of coach Antonio Conte and currently trains with the Juventus first team and has also represented Italy at various age groups at youth level.
3) Kler Heh – Thailand / Myanmar
Born in a refugee camp to minority tribe (Karen tribe) parents in the Thailand-Myanmar borders, Kler was resettled to the UK with his family in 2006 under the British government’s Gateway Protection Programme. Kler joined the Football Unites, Racism Divides group in Sheffield which eventually led to trials with the Blades and a professional contract with them in summer 2015. Due to the unique nature of his birth, Kler is eligible to play for either Thailand, Myanmar and England but has already stated his preference to play for Myanmar. Kler currently plays as a winger and has represented Dumbarton in the Scottish Championship whilst on loan from the Blades.
4) Adil Nabi / Samir Nabi / Rahis Nabi – Pakistan
Perhaps one of the most recognisable faces amongst the 8 for those that plays Football Manager, Adil actually joined West Bromwich Albion’s academy as a 8 year old and partnered Saido Berahino at youth level. Shortly after he was named Albion’s youth player of the season for the 2014/15 season, Adil was loaned to the India Super League to Delhi Dynamos and scored 3 goals in 10 appearances there. In 2016, he joined Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee and signed a 4 year contract. Despite having represented England at youth levels, Adil and his younger brothers (who currently still play as midfielders in Albion’s youth academy) are all eligible to turn out for Pakistan.
5) Rostyn Griffiths – Australia
At 28 years of age, Rostyn probably has only a few years left if he wants to play international football. Despite having spent the majority of his time playing in the Australian league, Rostyn has had a varied career and has also spent time with Blackburn Rovers as well as signing on for a then-record transfer amount for Guangzhou R&F in the China Super League in 2012. He currently plies his trade in the Dutch Eredivisie, operating as a defensive midfielder for Roda JC. Rostyn has represented Australia at Under-17 levels and has also been courted by Wales due to a Welsh link on his grandfather’s side but has to date, not represented either country.
6) Yan Dhanda – India
Currently only 17 years of age, Yan becomes the first player of Indian heritage to sign a professional contract with Liverpool FC. Yan plays in the number 10 role and is equally adept at either flanks and was signed at the age of 14 from West Bromwich Albion for £200,000. He won the Up and Coming Asian Player of the Year awards in 2013 and have already been asked to train with the first team by ex-manager Brendan Rodgers.
7) Danny Batth – India
Currently the club captain for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship, 25 year old Danny is of Sikh-Punjabi descent and has an Indian father and a British mother. Danny has never been called up to represent England at any levels but has impressed for Wolves in recent seasons, including being nominated in the 2013/14 PFA League One Team of the Year.
8) Emil Le Giang / Patrik Le Giang – Vietnam
Brothers Emil and Patrik play their league football in the Slovakian league. Elder brother Emil plays as a striker for FTC Fil’akovo and younger brother Patrik plays as a goalkeeper for MSK Zilina. Both brothers have represented Slovakia at youth levels but have yet to be called up to the Slovakian national team. With their physique and exposure in Europe, they will be useful for the Vietnamese national side.
Do you know of any other players that could make this list that we have missed out? Help us and also your respective football associations identify those players now!