FIFA’s eligibility rules give players the opportunity to play for the country in which their biological parents or grandparents were born in and because of this rule, some current superstars who represented or are currently representing European countries had the opportunity before to play for an Asian Country.
Without further delay, let’s get on to the list.
Yohan Cabaye – Vietnam
The 32-year-old Yohan Cabaye currently plays for UAE club Al-Nasr but the entirety of his football career before the most recent move is split between two clubs each in Ligue 1 and the Premier League.
Cabaye, who has 48 caps for France, is of Vietnamese descent through his paternal grandmother. In fact, he once admitted that he would have played for Vietnam if he wasn’t picked for the France senior team but that was never going to the be the case as he was a fantastic midfielder in the prime of his career.
The French midfielder has stated that he wants to visit the country of his grandmother and contribute to the development of football there.
Alphonse Areola – Philippines
Areola made his professional debut for PSG at the end of the 2012/13 season before spending the next three seasons on loan at Lens, Bastia and Villarreal respectively. In 2016/17, he shared goalkeeping duties with Kevin Trapp before becoming the outright first choice goalkeeper for the Parisian club in 2017/18.
The 25-year-old is currently first in line to take over as France’s first choice goalkeeper once Hugo Lloris steps down but his international career could have been very different.
Areola was eligible to play for the Philippine national team because both his parents were of Filipino heritage. In fact, back in 2011, the Philippines manager, Dan Palami, invited him to consider playing for the team, but he declined.
Interestingly, the Philippines’ current first choice goalkeeper is Neil Etheridge of Cardiff City who was born in England from a Filipino mother.
Radja Nainggolan – Indonesia
Radja Nainggolan is a former Belgian international who has spent his entire professional career with Italian clubs. He notably played for Cagliari and AS Roma before moving to Inter Milan in the summer.
The 30-year-old midfielder who is nicknamed ‘Ninja’, is the son of a Belgian mother and an Indonesian father of Batak background. His father abandoned the family when he was just a child and it was his mother who raised him with his three half-brothers and twin sister.
To all the indonesian followers… I cant speak indonesian… I will come to indonesia at juin…:))
— Radja Nainggolan (@OfficialRadja) October 24, 2012
I'm coming INDONESIA… In 30 hours i will be there… Can't wait to be there… For the first time i will see the other part of me…
— Radja Nainggolan (@OfficialRadja) June 15, 2013
His first name Radja in Bahasa Indonesia means ‘King’. Nainggolan has a huge fan base in Indonesia and often uses his social media accounts to communicate with the fans and show support to the Indonesian football team. He has visited the country several times and also expressed his desire to develop football there.
David Alaba – Philippines
David Alaba’s father and mother are from an African and Asian country respectively and he plays football for a European country. Talk about being Cosmopolitan? He was born in 1992 in Vienna, Austria to a Nigerian father and a Filipino mother.
Alaba’s mother, Gina, was named Miss Philippines, in the country of her birth in the 1980s before she emigrated to work as a nurse in Austria and it was here that she met and married his father, a prince, who works as a rapper and also as a DJ.
The 26-year-old has predominantly played as a left-back but is also capable of playing in midfield and in the heart of the defence. He has spent almost the entirety of his professional career with Bayern Munich winning as many as 15 trophies.
Alaba might go down in history as the greatest player from Austria having won the Austrian player of the year award a record six times between 2011 and 2016.
David Silva – Japan
David Silva is into his ninth season with Manchester City and when he ultimately leaves the club, he will go down as one of the greatest players ever to represent the club having played a crucial role in winning nine trophies including three Premier League titles.
The 32-year-old midfielder was born in Spain to a Spanish father and a mother of Japanese descent according to the Canarian media. However, unlike the other players mentioned in this list, it is unclear whether Silva would have been eligible to play for the Asian country in which he has descendants because FIFA’s rules only allow a player to represent a country in which his biological parents or grandparents were born.
Silva is a FIFA World Cup and two-time Euro winner with Spain, he has the sixth highest number of caps for the country and also scored the fourth highest number of goals.
Jadi mimin share foto nya waktu masih muda & keluarga nya yaa.. Bisa nebak donk David Silva yang mana? Hehehe. pic.twitter.com/ti2gRgsO1I
— MCSC Indonesia (@INA_Citizens) May 27, 2013