Best Asian goalkeepers of all time

Mon 18 January 2021 | 4:30

We're going to have a look at the best Asian goalkeepers of all time

Selecting an all-time top list for the biggest ever Asian goalkeepers as all lists are based on a person's biased perspective and can vary from person to person. How do you compare players from dissimilar eras who have played in different leagues?

The selection criteria will be based not only on the ability of players, but also on the influence that the player has had both domestically and, more significantly, abroad.

Asia continues to develop its emerging football culture; the Asian Cup continues to grow in stature, (though still behind the African Cup of Nations) the AFC Champions League has become increasingly popular and the state-sponsored capital inflow has elevated the profile of the Chinese Super League overseas due to purchases of high-profile players, while the lucrative salaries available in the Middle East has made it a popular destination for many footballers. 

Despite this, Asia still outpaces far behind Europe and South America in terms of overall quality, and many players have made it to be in this list due to the step up in quality to stamp their mark in Europe.

We should also take into consideration those players who have not moved into Europe but whose legacy will continue to exist in football's memory across the Asian continent.

Best Asian goalkeepers of all time

So let's list the best goalkeepers in the history of Asia

Seigo Narazaki (Japanese)

Seigo Narazaki (born 15 April 1976) is a former Japanese football player. He played for the National Team of



On 15 February 1998, Narazaki made his international debut as Japan's national team member against Australia.

After the debut, he's been fighting Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi for the position for 10 years.

Japan was selected for the 1998 World Cup. However, he couldn't play the game behind Kawaguchi.

In 2000, Narazaki was selected for Japan's U-23 National Team as an over-age in the 2000 Summer Olympics and played full time in all four matches.

Although he could hardly play in the 2001 match, he played a lot of games in 2002.

Up until the summer of 2004, Narazaki played numerous matches as a regular goalkeeper.

Although Japan was chosen for the 2004 Asian Cup, he was unable to play due to injury. 

His opponent Kawaguchi performed excellently at the Asian Cup and the Japan won the champions. Narazaki lost his regular position behind Kawaguchi after the Asian Cup.

Although Narazaki was chosen for the 2006 World Cup by Japan, he was not able to play in the match.

Even though Narazaki couldn't play many matches until 2007, because he was injured in 2008, he became a regular goalkeeper.

Narazaki was named as one of two Japanese players (the other being Kawaguchi) in the 2010 World Cup squad to participate in 4 successive World Cups.

Noor Sabri(Iraqi)

Noor Sabri Abbas Hasan Al-Baidawi is an Iraqi former professional goalkeeper, known commonly as Noor Sabri (born 6 June 1984 in Baghdad, Iraq).

In the Iraqi Premier League, he plays for

Naft Maysan

. He played for the Iraqi national team for 16 years and retired in 2018.

Sabri is one of the Best Asian goalkeepers of all time.

Noor Sabri belongs to the golden generation of this country that was nurtured by Adnan Hamad.

In the 2000 AFC Youth Championship, he burst on to the Asian scene, warming the bench before the final game against Japan.

Sabri received praise for holding Iraq in contention before Emad Mohammed scored the title-winning goal, despite acting as the substitute for the suspended first-choice Ahmed Ali Jaber.

As Iraq reached the semi-finals, where they were faced with the intimidating task of facing the Korea Republic, Sabri amazed during the competition.

After extra time, the two teams stayed equal at 0-0 and a penalty shootout beckoned.

Sabri made a critical save by tipping away Yeom Ki-Hun's shot after both sides were on target in the first three rounds.

In their final effort, after Kim Jung-Woo hit the post, it was Sabri and his team-mates who advanced to the final, against all odds.

Sabri managed to become one of the greatest Asian goalkeepers of all time.

Sabri declared his retirement from international football in March 2016, explaining that the reason for this was to give young players the chance to represent the

Iraqi national team.

He returned to the national team in March 2018 to play his 100th match.

Noor Sabri joined the Saudi club Hajer on 24 June 2018.

Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Japanese)

Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi is a former Japanese football goalkeeper (born 15 August 1975), sometimes referred to as Yoshi Kawaguchi.

He is a retired Japan national team captain and one of the Greatest Asian goalkeepers of all time.

Kawaguchi, who was born in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, studied at Shimizu Commercial High School and was a football team member there.

He joined the

Yokohama Marinos

professional football team after graduating from high school (later Yokohama F. Marinos).

He was called to the Japanese national team and played in the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

In the first match, he maintained a clean sheet against



He played in a 1-0 defeat against Argentina in Japan's first ever World Cup game in 1998, and and during the the tournament, his stunning performance prevented Japan from being scored more than one, with all three Japanese losses being just a one-goal margin.

In 2001, as the team finished runner-up in the Confederations Cup, Kawaguchi was Japan's first-choice goalkeeper and indeed one of the Best Asian goalkeepers of all time.

On 21 May 2010, during team training, Kawaguchi was assigned captain of the national team.

Under coach Alberto Zaccheroni, Kawaguchi was not selected to play for the national team, and with young Eiji Kawashima impressing in Japan's 2011 Asian Cup success, the international career of the Fuji-shi born custodian was properly over.

Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh (Iranian)

Ahmadreza Abedzadeh (born May 25, 1966) is an ex-footballer from Iran who played as a goalkeeper.

He has played with Esteghlal, Sepahan, Persepolis, and the national team of



He made 79 appearances for Iran and played in the 1998 FIFA World Cup for his country. Ahamdreza is one of the

Greatest Asian goalkeepers of all time.

With 13 matches, 7 wins and 6 draws, Abedzadeh had an undefeated record in the Tehran derby. 

When playing for


, he stayed without conceding a goal for 802 consecutive minutes.

In 1984, Abedzadeh was called up to the Iran National Under-20 Football Team at the age of 18.

He was welcomed into the senior team in 1987 by then-manager Parviz Dehdari after his good shows.

On 27 February 1987, Abedzadeh made his debut in the match against Kuwait in which he conceded a goal in a 2-1 win.

He began at the 1990 Asian Games, where, after beating North Korea in the final, they won the gold medal and Abedzadeh saved two penalties.

He only scored two goals in the tournament, both of which were produced from penalty kicks.

Nicknamed the Eagle of Asia for his skill to safeguard the net, His international career extended for an influential 11 years, a tenure that offered stability and uncanny leadership.

He was named Iran's favourite player of the last 30 years in a 2009 poll.

Only Nasser Hejazi is a rival to his goalkeeping legacy in Iran. He is definitely considered as one of the best Asian goalkeepers in football history.

Mark Bosnich (Australian)

Mark John Bosnich is an Australian former goalkeeper and sports pundit (born 13 January 1972).

He played in England for Aston Villa,

Manchester United

and Chelsea clubs of the Premier League.

He also played in Australia for Sydney United, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney Olympic, he also played in Australia, as well as featuring Australia 17 times throughout his career, scoring 1 goal for his country. On Fox Sports News, he currently co-hosts Bill & Boz.

He is one of the

Best Asian goalkeepers of all time.

In 1989, Manchester United took Bosnich to England, but he returned to Australia because of a lack of first-team opportunities.

A year later, Aston Villa took him back to England and, during the 1990s, he established himself as one of the Premier League's best goalkeepers.

He is also one of the Best Asian goalkeepers in football history

As a substitute for the departing Peter Schmeichel, Manchester United re-signed him in 1999, but injuries and a lack of first-team opportunities contributed to a downturn in form.

In 2001, he left Manchester United for Chelsea, where he failed again to find a regular place in the starting line-up and continued to fight injuries.

In September 2002, he was released by


and banned from football for nine months after testing positive for cocaine.

Subsequently, Bosnich developed drug addiction and spent the next six years of his life in exile before preparing for a comeback in 2007 and finally returning to his native Australia for a professional game the following year, before retiring in 2009.

Ali Al-Habsi (Omani)

Ali Abdullah Harib Al-Habsi is an Omani retired professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper (born 30 December 1981) and is one of the

Best Asian goalkeepers in football history.

At the age of seventeen, Al-Habsi started playing in his native country, Oman, and joined the ranks of the Oman Under-19 squad before being noticed by John Burridge in 2001.

He was unable to move to Europe at this early phase of his career given the difficulty of securing a work permit.

He was called to Oman and played at the 2004 AFC Asian Cup in China in all of their three group matches and also made four appearances for the team in their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, which they left in the first group stage after placing second in a group with Japan, India and Singapore.

At the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, he was also Oman's first-choice goalkeeper, appearing in all their three group matches.

Al-Habsi has also appeared in four consecutive Arabian Gulf Cups as the main keeper.

He received the award for best goalkeeper in each tournament, most lately at the 19th Arabian Gulf Cup.

Being one of the greatest Asian goalkeepers in soccer history, all across the 2009 tournament that Oman ultimately won, he kept a clean sheet.

In a 0-4 loss to Australia in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, he obtained his 100th cap with Oman.

Al-Habsi announced his retirement from international football on 5 January 2020.

Mark Schwarzer (Australian)

Mark Schwarzer OAM (born 6 October 1972) is a retired footballer from the Australian professional association who played as a goalkeeper.

From 1993 to 2013, he represented Australia at international level and was chosen for both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.

He is known as one of the best goalkeepers in the

Premier League

of all time as well as one of the

Best Asian goalkeepers of all time.

Schwarzer became a player for the National Soccer League team Marconi Stallions in 1990, having advanced through the youth ranks of Colo Cougars, Penrith, Blacktown Association and Marconi Stallions.

He moved in 1994 to German Bundesliga side Dynamo Dresden after producing 58 appearances for the club, featuring twice, and then to Bundesliga side 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 1995, with four appearances.

In 1996, Schwarzer joined then-second-tier side Bradford City and made 16 appearances before joining Middlesbrough's Premier League club in February 1997.

For Middlesbrough, he made 445 appearances, but preferred to leave the club in May 2008.

He then transferred to


, the Premier League team, and made 218 club appearances before he moved to Chelsea in 2013.

Schwarzer made his full international debut in a World Cup qualifying match against Canada in 1993 as a replacement after Robert Zabica was sent off in the 17th minute after having played for Australia at the under-17 and under-20 level.

He earned a total of 109 caps for his country over the course of his international career.

When he surpassed Alex Tobin's appearance record in January 2011, he became the most capped player in Australia.

He is without a doubt one of the Greatest Asian goalkeepers in soccer history.

Lee Woon-jae (South Korean)

Lee Woon-jae (born 26 April 1973) is a former football goalkeeper from

South Korea


He was part of the 1994, 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup campaigns for South Korea.

He was one of two Asian players with Mark Schwarzer to be nominated for the IFFHS World Best Goalkeeper of the 21st Century (2001–2011)

He is by far one of the very asia best goalkeepers ever.

For the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Lee was part of the South Korean squad and was replaced by goalkeeper Choi In-young in the game against



He suffered from tuberculosis and hepatitis following the 1994 World Cup, which caused the crisis to end his playing career.

He regained his health in 1998 and returned to the national team for the first time in four years.

Lee is one of two players to be selected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the other being Rigobert Song of Cameroon, who was also selected for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

He is one of seven Asian players to participate in four separate World Cup matches.

On 11 August 2010, in a 2-1 victory, he played his final game for the national team in a friendly match against Nigeria, then withdrew from international football.

Lee is one of the

Greatest Asian goalkeepers in soccer history.

Nasser Hejazi (Iranian)

Nasser Hejazi, nicknamed "the legendary Iranian goalkeeper" (14 December 1949-23 May 2011), was an Iranian football player and coach who most famously played for Esteghlal Tehran FC (Taj).

Considered the greatest goalkeeper in Iranian and Asian Football history, he has been capped 62 times for the national football team of Iran.

He was ranked the second best Asian goalkeeper of the 20th century by the Asian Football Confederation in 2000. He is absolutely one of the few

Best Asian goalkeepers of all time.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he was Iran's national team goalkeeper and won the AFC Asian Cup twice in 1972 and 1976, and the Asian Games title once, and played in the 1972 Munich Olympics, 1976 Montreal Olympics, and 1978 FIFA World Cup.

He won the Azadegan League in 1998 and the Bangladesh League in 1988 as manager, as well as the AFC Champions League runner-up place in 1999.

Hejazi joined up with the Iran National Team, just in time to appear in the squad that won the Asian Cup in 1968 and picked up two more in 1972 as the first choice and 1976 as the second choice goalkeeper.

During the 1980 Asian Cup, he was captain of the national team and one of the Asia best goalkeepers ever and played his last game for Iran in the semi-final match against Kuwait.

A member of Iran's Department of Physical Education adopted a policy after the tournament in which athletes older than 27 years of age will no longer be eligible to participate internationally.

In spite of being just 29 years old at the time of implementation, Hejazi was effectively pressured to retire from international football back then.

Related Article: 

Best Goalkeepers of 2019

Mohammed Al Deayea (Saudi Arabian)

Mohamed Abdullaziz Al-Deayea (born 2 August 1972) is a retired football goalkeeper from Saudi Arabia.

He played for the Saudi Arabia national team in four FIFA World Cups and won a total of 178 officially recognized caps, the record for a goalkeeper. 

He also won Asia's first Best Goalkeeper of the Century title, ahead of Nasser Hejazi in second and In-Young Choi in third.

He is indeed one of the Best Asian goalkeepers of all time.

Al-Deayea divided his professional career into the Al-Ta'ee and Al-Hilal clubs. He initially started out as a handball player, but his club and his older brother, Abdullah, encouraged him to become a footballer.

At the beginning of his career, Mohammed was under enormous pressure because of having to wear his brother Abdullah's shoes, who was an AFC Asian Cup winner and also a globally reputed goalkeeper.

Mohamed Al-Deayea announced his retirement from football at the age of 37 on 22 June 2010.

Being one of the

Asia best goalkeepers ever

, a big goodbye match was arranged on 5 January 2012 between Al-Hilal and

Juventus F.C


The King Fahd Stadium had 70,000 people packed in. With one goal from Saad Al-Harthi, the match ended 1–7 in favor of Juventus.

Alessandro Del Piero (twice), Eljero Elia, Arturo Vidal, Giorgio Chiellini, Simone Pepe and Fabio Quagliarella scored goals for Juventus.

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source: SportMob

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