Fandi, Safee and 6 Southeast Asians who shook up Indonesian football

Who are some of the biggest names in Southeast Asian football to have graced the Indonesian domestic league over the years? FourFourTwo did the research to find out...

Indonesia has a rich football heritage and over the years some of the game’s biggest names have had the opportunity to perform in front of the country’s boisterous and enthusiastic crowds.

Southeast Asian footballers from outside of Indonesia have been a key part of that history and here FourFourTwo presents eight of the biggest names from this part of the world who have competed on Indonesian soil.

Fandi Ahmad – Singapore

Fandi Ahmad is a pioneer when it comes to foreign Southeast Asian players in Indonesia. Fandi, who is of Pacitan (East Java) descent, was recruited by Niac Mitra back in 1982, earning a reported US$75,000 (S$107,000) for a one-year contract.

Fandi was treated as a king during his time with Niac. He even had the luxury of flying from Indonesia to Singapore and back to see his family on more than one occasion.

Fandi repaid Niac’s trust with a league title in the 1982/83 Liga Sepakbola Utama (also known as Galatama) season. Fandi scored 13 goals that year and was also awarded honourary citizenship in Surabaya.

The legendary Fandi is still involved in high-level football

David Lee – Singapore

Lee also represented Niac Mitra at the same time as compatriot Fandi. Like his teammate, Lee is one of the most successful foreign Southeast Asian players in Indonesia. A goalkeeper, David guarded Niac Mitra’s goal with aplomb.

Along with Fandi he brought the Galatama title to Surabaya, helping Niac Mitra become Surabayan’s favourite club, along with Persebaya.

Like Fandi, Lee was also awarded the honorary Citizenship of Surabaya.

Lee became a Singapore great in goal

Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (Kosin) – Thailand

Sinthaweechai’s struggle is one worthy of appreciation. Persib Bandung’s offer came in 2006 and he immediately packed his bags, playing a key role there. But his time in Bandung lasted only a year before Kosin decided to come home to Thailand.

After Persib he played for Chonburi and then returned to Bandung in 2009, but this time around the keeper didn’t play the same role, featuring only 11 times.

At the start of the 2016 Thai Premier League season, Kosin moved to Suphanburi with a transfer fee of 15 million baht (S$600,000), a record for a Thai player at that time.

[NEXT UP: A controversial Singapore figure and his former teammate]