The English Premier League hasn’t been graced with many Pakistani footballers over the years, with even fewer going on to become pundits in the English game. This means viewers often have to settle for commentary from former players from England such as Michael Owen, providing what some might describe as sub-standard opinions and analysis. However, if you’re looking for a quick laugh, checking out Michael Owen quotes online will always put a smile on your face.
With so few Pakistani former players making it onto mainstream television in the UK and Europe, we ask – who are the most famous Pakistani footballers of all time? Here, we take a look.
Jaffar Khan – Goalkeeper
Arguably the most well-known Pakistani footballer there’s ever been, Khan didn’t actually play for any team outside of Pakistan. Jaffar, who goes by the nickname ‘Jeff’ to many, began his career playing for the Pakistan Army in 1998 and has been playing for the side ever since, still technically being enlisted as a Non-Commissioned Officer. Khan holds the appearance record for the Pakistan international team with 44 caps, amassed between 2001 and 2014. Known for his shot stopping and abilities and cat-like reflexes, the goalkeeper captained the Pakistan national team to two South Asian Games gold medals in 2004 and 2006 respectively and is worthy of his place in this list.
Zesh Rehman – Defender
Rehman was actually born in Birmingham, England, but qualified to play international football for Pakistan through his parents, which gave him a dual Pakistani and British nationality. Breaking into the Fulham team between 2003 and 2006, Rehman became the first British Asian to start a Premier League match, as well as the first Pakistani ever to play professional football in England. After making 30 appearances for the Cottagers, Rehman became somewhat of a journeyman and holds the distinct honour of being the only British Asian to have played in all four of England’s professional leagues. Despite playing for England at youth level (under-18s, 19s and 20s), Rehman decided to represent Pakistan at full international level, for whom he has made 22 appearances and scored one goal. The 6ft 2in defender still plays professional football and is the player-manager for Southern in the Hong Kong Premier League.
Muhammad Essa Khan – Forward
Another hugely well-known name in the Pakistani football world is Muhammad Essa who played the entirety of his professional football career in Pakistan. After representing his country at under-23 level, Essa was given the chance to showcase his abilities for the full national team. His honours at club level include two Pakistan Premier League titles and two Pakistan National Football Challenge Cups. He also won the 2004 and 2006 South Asian Games, along with teammate Jaffar Khan mentioned earlier. Largely regarded as one of the most talented Asian players of his generation, Essa scored 10 goals in 36 appearances for his country, before finally hanging up his shooting boots in 2017. Since 2018, Essa has been the assistant coach of the Pakistan national team, hoping to pass on his knowledge of the game to the next generation of stars.
With the continued improvement of Pakistani footballers, it provides plenty of hope that the country can one day produce a player that the entire football world sits up and takes notice of.