Ada sebuah artikel menarik dari situs Goal.com tentang para pesepakbola terkenal dari benua lain yang sukses di Asia. Ada beberapa nama yang pernah besar di kompetisi Eropa yang ternyata 'nyangkut' di benua timur seperti Rivaldo dan Robbie Fowler. Yang lebih menarik, penyerang asal Uruguay yang sudah kenyang asam-garam di Indonesia --Christian Gonzales-- masuk dalam urutan sepuluh besar. Ini dia kutipannya:
10. Indonesia - Christian Gonzales (Uruguay) His nickname is 'El Loco' and he is certainly crazy for goals. For PSM Makassar, the Uruguayan striker netted 32 in 56 games. From 2005-09, he scored and amazing 100 in 102 for Persik Kediri. Of late, he has been on loan with Persib Bandung and has continued his great form with six from seven. He wants Indonesian citizenship and with a record like that, few locals would complain.
9. South Korea - Dragan Mladenovic (Serbia)
There can be few players in Asia who boast a resume like the gangly Incheon United midfielder. The former Serbian international has played for the likes of Red Star Belgrade, Glasgow Rangers and Real Sociedad – though he has never been one to stay in one place too long. He is settled now in the K-League and is currently in his third season with United.
8. Japan - Robson Ponte (Brazil)
Some genuine world stars have played in the J-League – Zico, Gary Lineker, Dunga, Hristo Stoichkov, Michael Laudrup, to name just a few. There is no current import that could stand up to such forefathers, but Robson Ponte is a class act. The Brazilian playmaker drove Urawa Reds to the 2007 Asian title and was named the J-League player of the year for his troubles. Has in the past been linked with a move back to Germany, where he starred with Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, but at the age of 32, his next transfer will likely be back to Brazil.
7. UAE - Hosny Abd Rabo (Egypt)
The player of the 2008 African Nations Cup has lived up to his reputation since moving to Al Ahli. His performances in helping Egypt lift the continental crown meant that there were a host of European clubs chasing the midfielder’s signature last summer. It was something of a surprise then that he chose to move to Al Ahli. What is less surprising is the fact that he has helped the club move to within reach of a fifth league title.
6. Saudi Arabia - Christian Wilhelmsson (Sweden)
A journeyman who has arrived, played and left for such clubs as Anderlecht, Nantes, Bolton Wanderers, Roma and Deportivo La Coruna, he has settled in Saudi Arabia and has still managed to stay in the reckoning with the Swedish national team. The speedy wideman has scored and made a number of vital goals as Al Hilal finished as runners-up in the league and look set to make the second round of the Asian Champions League.
5. Qatar - Carlos Tenerio (Ecuador)
The Ecuadorian star has been at Al-Sadd for five years and has talked at various times about quitting Qatar and heading to Europe. It hasn’t happened yet and he is still banging them in for one of the region’s powerhouses – he was the league’s top scorer in 2006. After a good 2006 World Cup, in which he scored against Poland and Costa Rica, he is still a fixture in the forward line of the South American team.
4. UAE – Rafael Sobis (Brazil)
Reportedly the subject of a big-money bid from Newcastle United last summer, the Brazilian international decided to join Al Jazira instead. He took time to find his feet and he felt the frustrations from some of the fans and media. But soon he was showing just why he was in demand. The former Real Betis man since has enjoyed a good season in the UAE and his new team are still in with a chance of the title.
3. China – Damiano Tomassi (Italy)
The veteran midfielder does not have the best memories of Asia after playing in all four of Italy’s 2002 World Cup matches in Korea/Japan, but after a slow start he is starting to settle in Tianjin – or he was. There are contract disputes between the players and the club and performances are suffering. Tianjin spent big over the winter and the former Roma star will be hoping that any problems are nipped in the bud. Fans will be hoping he stays, as one newspaper said recently: “Tomassi is the only one with brains in the team.”
2. Australia – Robbie Fowler (England)
With Australia now part of the Asian Football Confederation, Robbie Fowler could one day be lining up in the ACL against Rivaldo. That is in the future, however. First the 34-year-old Liverpool legend has to show that he still has the hunger and the engine to shine down under. Whatever happens, 'God' will be making headlines all season long for North Queensland Fury and the A-League.
1. Uzbekistan – Rivaldo (Brazil)
Former World Player of the Year and 2002 World Cup winner, Rivaldo’s arrival in Tashkent helped put his ambitious new club on the map. He hasn’t done badly at all so far. He helped the team to a domestic title, though much of the work was done before he arrived, and played a part in the team, formerly known as Kuruvchi, making the semi-finals of the 2008 Asian Champions League. Now he is also on the coaching staff with Bunyodkor and is looking to leave a legacy in Central Asia.
By: John Duerden/ Asia Editor