FourFourTwo's Asia 50: Players 40-31
Players 40-36 written by Shanjayan Muniappan
40. Yasuhito Endo
Winning a second J.League title in 2014 with Gamba Osaka, nine years after his first
Yasuhito Endo is up there with Japan’s greatest ever players, with the 36-year-old adding two more pieces of silverware to his CV last year, the Emperor’s Cup and the Japanese Super League Cup.
The resilient midfielder, who has over 150 caps for Japan, can boast more than 30 appearances in each of his past six campaigns for Gamba Osaka.
He has enjoyed plenty of success across his career, including playing a key role as Gamba Osaka won the J.League title in their first year after gaining promotion back to the top flight in 2014.
With fans comparing him to Italian Andrea Pirlo, due to the way he ages like a fine wine and seems to get classier on the pitch, it appears there is plenty more to be achieved for this Japanese veteran.
39. Wu Lei
Winning the East Asian Football Championship in Japan in 2010, beating South Korea in the final
At the tender age of just 14, Wu Lei made his professional debut for Shangai SIPG in 2006.
Fast forward 10 years and he can boast the excellent return of 98 goals in 220 appearances, plus a well deserved first appearance on FFT’s Asia 50.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder is currently being coached by former England gaffer Sven-Göran Eriksson and when he’s not scoring himself, he regularly delivers assists to Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan in the Chinese Super League.
Last season was Wu Lei’s most prolific as he scored 14 goals in 30 appearances to help his team finish runner-up in the CSL.
He will be hoping to further improve himself this season with the likes of Fredy Guarin, Jackson Martinez, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gervinho now in the mix in the big-spending Chinese league.