Malaysian football fans have been welcoming European players since the late 1980’s. It’s a popular destination for players from Croatia and Slovakia in particular, while many pros from the English, French and German leagues have also found a home in the country. Malaysia’s multi-cultural nature and consistently strong economic record make it something of a haven for players looking for a new challenge.
Europeans based in Malaysia right now include Goran Perak. Perak, 27, is a Croatian midfielder who’s found a new home at Sime Darby FC. He moved to the Majlis Perbandaran Selayang Stadium from NK Vinogradar, a small Croatian club near Jastrebarsko.
Abdulfatah Safi, 32, is currently playing for his second Malaysian club, having signed for Sabah FA from Kedah this year. He’s played in his home country, France, and various Middle Eastern countries in the last decade.
George Boateng, 38, is a Dutch midfielder who signed a contract with T-Team this year. Formerly at Nottingham Forest, he’s played for a variety of English clubs including Aston Villa and Middlesborough.
Tomas Chovanec, 25, arrived at Betaria FC this year from Dolny Kubin in his home country, Slovakia. The striker’s senior career began in 2011 at Ruzomberok.
One player that Malaysian fans will miss is Spain’s Daniel Guiza. The prolific 33 year old striker arrived at Darul Takzim (on loan from Getafe) last year, but has now moved to Paraguay. Guiza has made 21 appearances for his national side.
Players that have excited Malaysian fans in seasons gone by include England’s Tony Cottee, now a TV commentator with Sky. The ex-striker arrived at Selangor in 1996, scored 14 goals and won the FAM Cup. He left to join Leicester City shortly afterwards.
The late David Rocastle, much loved in England especially by Arsenal fans, ended his career at Sabah in 1999. Though plagued by injury, “Rocky” Rocastle managed 8 goals in 13 games for the club.
Croatian striker Bosko Balaban, 35, is another well-known player who spent time at Selangor. He’s scored regularly for the club, though it looks like his playing days are now over. His previous clubs included Belgium’s Brugge, for whom he scored 40 goals in 83 appearances. He also played many times for the Croatian national side between 2000 and 2007.
Adding Global Interest
It’s obvious to most people that the presence of foreign players in a nation’s leagues adds interest, not only for that country’s fans, but also for fans from all over the world. Online betting on Malaysian league football is strong, and while Malaysia haven’t qualified for Brazil 2014, the level of world cup betting in the country will surely reflect that interest. If you fancy checking out the early odds for this summers tournament head over to dafabet to see all the odds.
(Images courtesy of sinarharian.com, wikipedia, wikipedia, vandaag.be)