The Bundesliga has another Asian superstar: Min-jae Kim has switched to Bayern Munich. But which players from Asia were in the Bundesliga before him – and which countries did they come from?
Min-jae Kim is the new star of Bayern Munich. Having moved from SSC Naples to the record champions, he is following in big footsteps – both as an Asian and for South Korea in the Bundesliga. SPOX shows you the top players in the Bundesliga from Asia.
Japan: 40 players
The Bundesliga has seen a lot of Japanese players in its history. With Yasuhiko Okudera and Yuya Osako, two of the top three players played for both 1. FC Köln and SV Werder Bremen. But also stars like Gotoku Sakai, Shinji Kagawa and Naohiro Takahara came from Japan.
Schalke’s Maya Yoshida and Daichi Kamada, Europa League winners with Eintracht Frankfurt, recently left the Bundesliga. With Masaya Okugawa, a well-known Japanese player switched back to the upper house at FC Augsburg.
In addition to Okugawa, seven other Japanese players are currently playing in the Bundesliga. Including Genki Haraguchi, Wataru Endo and Hiroki Ito – all at VfB Stuttgart. But Gladbach’s Ko Itakura, Freiburg’s Ritsu Doan and Bochum’s Takuma Asano in the upper house as well as Schalke’s Soichiro Kozuki in the second division and Bielefeld’s Kaito Mizuta in the third division are also active in Germany.
Top player: Makoto Hasebe (376 appearances)
Japan’s top player – and also the Asian with the most appearances – is Makoto Hasebe. The veteran has once again extended his contract with Eintracht Frankfurt. The 39-year-old already has a follow-on contract as a coach at SGE. He has been in Frankfurt since 2014. Previously he also played for VfL Wolfsburg and 1. FC Nürnberg.
South Korea: 22 players
One of the best South Koreans in the Bundesliga – and now the absolute superstar in his home country – was certainly Heung-min Son. Today’s Tottenham striker joined Hamburger SV at a young age, matured there to become a Bundesliga professional and then went to Bayer Leverkusen. In 2015 he joined Spurs in the Premier League.
In addition to the new Bayern defender Min-Jae Kim, another South Korean changed – but within the Bundesliga: Woo-yeong Jeong from SC Freiburg joined VfB Stuttgart. Jae-sung Lee completes the current South Korea trio in the upper house. Another South Korean, Dong-jun Lee, played in Germany until the winter – but Hertha BSC sent him back home.
Top Player: Bum-kun Cha (208 appearances)
The legend Bum-kun Cha scored 98 goals in the Bundesliga. The center forward initially played for SV Darmstadt 98 for six months, but then went back to South Korea. Eintracht Frankfurt decided six months later to bring him over and he played there for four years before the now 70-year-old went to Bayer Leverkusen for another six seasons. Bum-kun’s son Du-ri Cha also played in Germany. Not only for his father’s last two clubs, but also for Bielefeld, Mainz, Koblenz, Freiburg and Düsseldorf.
Iran: 16 players
Everyone knows names like Vahid Hashemian, Ashkan Dejagah or Ali Daei. The three attackers scored 76 goals in the Bundesliga. Ali Karimi – active at Bayern and Schalke – is also a better known name.
There is currently only one Iranian in the Bundesliga: national striker Sardar Azmoun has been at Bayer Leverkusen for a year and a half and is chasing goals there. With Daniel Davari, a German-born Iranian also plays in goal at Rot-Weiss Oberhausen.
Top player: Mehdi Mahdavikia (255 appearances)
The right winger was brought to Germany by VfL Bochum and was able to impress Hamburger SV on his six-month loan. The Hanseatic League also concluded a loan agreement and later fully committed him. After a total of eight years at HSV, Mahdavikia went back to Eintracht Frankfurt before returning home two and a half years later.
Israel: 14 players
Israel also had well-known names in the Bundesliga with players like Taleb Tawatha (Frankfurt). However, there is currently none. The last two Israelis in the German upper house were Hoffenheim’s Ilay Elmkies and Munas Dabbur. But Elmkies’ contract in Sinsheim ended this summer – and Dabbur recently moved to the United Arab Emirates.
Top player: Almog Cohen (109 appearances)
Probably the best-known Israeli in the German upper house is Almog Cohen. He came to 1. FC Nürnberg in 2010 and switched to FC Ingolstadt three years later. The central midfielder completed 109 games in the Oberhaus – 75 more in the 2nd Bundesliga.
Philippines: 6 players
There are only a few players from the Philippines – and all of them were not even born in the country whose national team they are currently playing for. Dennis Dagara (Hertha) was born in Denmark – the other five in Germany.
Four of the six players are still playing in Germany. Denis Wolf kicks in the district league, John-Patrick Strauss (Rostock) and Raphael Obermair (Paderborn) in the 2nd Bundesliga.
China: 5 players
There is currently no Chinese in the Bundesliga – the last was Yuning Thang at SV Werder Bremen in 2018. However, he was never used there. Frankfurt’s Chen Yang (65 appearances) misses the top spot by just two games.
Top player is Jiayi Shao. Frankfurt also brought him to Germany once – during his six-month loan with the A-Juniors in 1999 he was not used by the professionals. However, he later played 67 times in the Bundesliga from 2003 for 1860 Munich and Energie Cottbus.
Lebanon: 3 players
There are also no active players from Lebanon in the Bundesliga, but Daniel Zeaiter plays for FC Eddersheim in the Hessian league. However, SC Freiburg and 1. FC Köln were particularly fond of Lebanese: Roda Antar (82 appearances) and Youssef Mohamad (115 appearances) played for both – Antar also spent a year with HSV.
Thailand: 2 players
Hardly anyone knows these two boys. Witthaya Laohakul played three games for Hertha BSC in the late 1970s – Manuel Bihr did not play at all for 1. FC Nürnberg.
Countries with one player
Iraq: Jiloan Hamad was born in Baku, but his parents are from Iraq – and he grew up in Sweden. In 2014 he came to TSG Hoffenheim from Malmö and played 15 games for TSG in the following three years. Then he moved back to Sweden.
Cambodia: Chhunly Pagenburg was born in Nuremberg, but is Cambodian by nationality. He made twelve games in the Bundesliga for FCN. He was also on the road for 1860, Erfurt, Trier and FSV Frankfurt in Germany.
North Korea: Born in Japan, Tae-se Jong grew up there and finally switched to VfL Bochum in 2010, two years later to 1. FC Köln. He didn’t stay there long – already in January 2013 he went on to South Korea. He made five appearances for Cologne in the Bundesliga and also played 44 times in the second division.
Tajikistan: Alexander Huber made three appearances in the Bundesliga for his youth club Eintracht Frankfurt. After that he played for Hoffenheim, Braunschweig, Hamburg, Offenbach and FSV Frankfurt – but never again in the upper house.
Jordan: Alaa Bakir, who was born in Münster, is a Jordanian citizen, but grew up with Borussia Dortmund from a sporting point of view – and was also once in the Bundesliga squad. However, he was not used. He has been playing in the 3rd division at MSV Duisburg since 2021.