Higher Calling: 10 Southeast Asian players too good to play at home

As we've discovered in our series on Southeast Asia's Biggest Exports, players from this region have often struggled to leave a mark on the global game. But we think the footballers listed here should be playing in some bigger leagues overseas right now...

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While there is some excellent development work being done across numerous Southeast Asian nations, notably in Vietnam and Thailand, the wait for the next crop of talented youngsters to emerge - and hopefully the diamonds that go on to successful careers abroad - could still take plenty of time.

That means it could be a full half-decade or more until the region produces the kind of player equipped with the right tools technically, physically and especially mentally to shine in one of the bigger leagues in Asia or at any decent level in Europe.

A master creator of assists, a dead-ball specialist ... it’s a mystery why the fullback/wingback isn't playing at a much higher level

It also means the window may well have closed on those considered past the ‘golden age’ of their early to mid-20s to make a move and that’s often down as much to opportunity and desire as it is raw talent.

Especially with younger players, the lack of scouting is a major impediment and as FourFourTwo saw first hand at the recent U20 World Cup in South Korea, it’s hard enough to see scouts and agents putting in the work to uncover those players at an international level let alone a regional one.

Setting those factors aside it’s clear that in terms of pure ability there are plenty of players who should be plying their trade overseas but who aren’t for any one of the reasons listed above.

FourFourTwo takes a look at 10 players who really ought to be playing at a higher level than they currently are.


  • Country: Thailand
  • Current club: Muangthong United
  • Position: Goalkeeper

Perhaps more so than any other position there are more talented keepers right now in Southeast Asia than at any point in time – and Kawin is the pick of the bunch.

Blessed with the perfect physique, a strong mentality and all the technical tools needed to be a success, the Thai captain is as close to a complete keeper as the region has and easily talented enough to crack it at a mid-tier European league.


  • Country: Singapore
  • Current club: Home United
  • Position: Goalkeeper

If Kawin is the lead act in terms of custodians then the Singapore No.1 is a pretty handy compliment and someone who already blazed a trail with his stint in Thailand.

At 33 there would have to be little chance of him making a move outside of Southeast Asia now, but surely he could have earlier in his career given his outstanding shot-stopping ability, command of his area and leadership from the back?


  • Country: Thailand
  • Current club: Muangthong United
  • Position: Defender/wingback

As Bangkok United coach Alexandre Polking told FourFourTwo, Teerathon possesses a left foot that makes it appear as “‘though he’s playing football with his hands”, such is its deadly accuracy and control.

A master creator of assists, a dead-ball specialist and incredibly comfortable in possession, it’s a mystery as to why the fullback/wingback isn't playing at a much higher level.