Bantams Worldwide: Asia

Other editions: Africa, Caribbean (I)

While players from all across the world have appeared for Bradford City since the club’s formation in 1903, one part of the world which hasn’t had too much representation is Asia.

So much so, in fact, that of the 1200+ players to have worn the claret and amber shirt since 1903, only one of those has either been born in Asia or gone on to represent an Asian country at international level.

That makes this a very compact, small edition of Bantams Worldwide: but the one man in this exclusive group is somewhat of a flag-bearer for Asian footballers.

Pakistan – Zesh Rehman
(#1056, 71 apps, 2 goals, 2009-10)

Born in Birmingham in 1983, Zesh Rehman’s footballing career began when he made his debut for Fulham in 2003. However, it was the following year, against Liverpool in April, when Rehman came on for the final minutes (replacing another ex-City player in Bobby Petta) to become the first British Asian to play in the Premier League.

Rehman subsequently became the first British Asian to play in all four professional divisions – but only achieved that when he signed for City in January 2009 on loan.

He was quoted at the time as saying the only League Two team he would have dropped down to play for were Bradford, making his debut on January 27, 2009 during the 1-0 defeat to Bury.

Rehman actually turned down a Pakistan call-up in March to help City push for promotion, which they ultimately failed in achieving, but he still signed a permanent, two-year deal with City in the summer of 2009 – as well as being named captain.

However, despite making 42 appearances in the 2009-10 season, the arrival of Peter Taylor as manager coincided with Rehman’s game-time decreasing. He then made some public comments about his lack of action which led to him being transfer listed, eventually being let go by the Bantams later that year.

In total, Rehman made 18 appearances for Pakistan at international level – and is still the only Pakistani international to play in the Premier League.

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