Southeast Asia's Best Imports Ever
10. Mohamed Kone
The striker from the Ivory Coast has played for more Thai teams than most natives of the Lands of Smiles and has delivered for pretty much of all them.
Now 33, he still guarantees goals and it is that precious commodity that has helped him win the Thai league with three different clubs.
The first was Krung Thai Bank in 2004, then Chonburi three years later and finally Muangthong United in 2010 and 2012.
Had he stayed at one club for a long time then he would enjoy legendary status, but his movement in the transfer market is as lively as his movement in the area. He just doesn’t stay in one place for very long.
Kone has scored for half a dozen Thai clubs and also enjoyed spells in Vietnam and Myanmar. Some have said he can be hard to manage and it may well be true that had he stayed for longer at Chonburi – where he produced his best – and Muangthong, then his status would be more in the legendary than the respected bracket. – JD
9. Greg Nwokolo
An explosive forward who possessed incredible ball control, the Nigerian-born Nwokolo first announced himself in Singapore in the early 2000s, initially with Tampines Rovers before two goal-laden years – firstly with the Young Lions and then with SAFFC (now Warriors FC).
Nwokolo then left for Indonesia where he truly left his mark with various top-flight clubs over the next decade
He has scored goals wherever he has enjoyed stops across Indonesia and also during one season with BEC Tero and on-loan with Chiangrai in the Thai Premier League and another campaign with Portuguese first division side SC Olhanense in 2009/10.
He was also naturalised to play for Indonesia, scoring one goal in six appearances for the Garudas, during a friendly against Philippines in 2013.
The 31-year-old is now part of Madura United, where he has formed a strike partnership alongside former West Bromwich Albion forward Peter Odemwingie. – KT
8. Mario Gjurovski
Born into a footballing family, with his father and his uncle having played for Serbian giants Red Star and Partizan, Gjurovski has continued that legacy by becoming one of the best foreigners to have graced Thai football.
Although his boyish looks make him seem much younger, the now 31-year-old is a graceful and languid player capable of operating either as a No.10 or in any of the wider or more central attacking roles and he’s been a constant contributor of both assists and goals over his half-decade in Thailand.
In four seasons with powerhouse club Muangthong he scored at close to a goal every two games and produced some memorable strikes and celebrations – including leaping onto the back of an unsuspecting security guard early in his time at the club.
Having moved to Bangkok United in 2016 and then dealt with a serious injury the assists and the goals have continued to flow with no fewer than 15 goals in barely two dozen appearances at the time of writing.
He’s consistently proven himself to be a leading asset for Thai football both on and off the pitch at a time when washed-up ‘big name’ foreigners continue to flop across the region. – SM
7. Marlon Alex James
‘Goal machine’ is a well worn cliche in football circles, but it is really the only way to describe this St. Vincent and the Grenadines international, who was big, fast and gave defenders virtually no chance of stopping him.
Even when he returned to Malaysia in 2012 at the age of 35 to sign for MPL side ATM, he could still find the back of the net.
His Malaysian adventure started in 2004 when he signed for MPL debutants MK Land. Two seasons and 41 goals later, he moved to top-flight side Kedah.
The Red Eagles swept all major domestic trophies for two seasons – a double domestic treble – as Marlon scored 43 MSL goals, plenty more in Cup competitions and won the Best Foreign Player award.
Marlon left Malaysia in 2008 after the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) decided to enforce a ‘no foreign players’ ruling for three seasons until reopening its doors in 2012, where B. Sathianathan swiftly moved in to secure the former’s services.
Marlon helped ATM to promotion with his 21 goals and scored another 12 as the Gladiators finished runners-up in the Malaysia Cup.
He scored a further 16 goals to win the 2013 MSL Golden Boot before retiring in April 2014 due to injury. – VV
6. Aleksandar Duric
Duric’s arrival into Singapore in 1999 with Tanjong Pagar United kick-started a love affair with the Lion City that would see him eventually become a Singaporean citizen.
He would also finish with an incredible record tally of 376 S.League goals when he retired at the end of the 2014 season.
Did we mention that he won four top-scorer awards, three Player of the Year gongs, eight S.League titles and three Singapore Cups with a total of four clubs too?
He also earned the utmost respect of Singapore fans for various factors apart from his goals. Duric played until the age of 44, sticking to his own strict fitness regime outside of his regular club training.
Overlooked for the Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) Foreign Talent Scheme meant it took him several failed attempts before he eventually obtained citizenship on his own in 2007.
He scored twice on his Lions debut in a 2-0 win against Tajikistan and eventually recorded 24 goals in 53 outings, finishing with a flourish by playing a part in their victorious 2012 Suzuki Cup campaign.
Even after his retirement, he is still contributing to local football by nurturing the next generation at the ActiveSG academy – a true legend indeed. – KT