Zesh Rehman


Zeshan Rehman was born in Birmingham in 1983 to Pakistani parents. With the full support of his parents, he left home at the age of 12 and moved to London to pursue a career in professional football with Fulham. He made his debut for Fulham in a League Cup tie at Wigan in 2003 at the age of 19. In April 2004, he became the first player of South Asian origin to play in the Premiership when he played for Fulham at Liverpool, helping the Fulham defence to keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw.

In August 2006, Rehman joined Queens Park Rangers of the Football League Championship and became a regular in their first team. He was comfortable playing both in defence and midfield.

In June 2009 he signed for Bradford City in League Two after a loan period there, and went on to captain the side. Off the pitch, Rehman bolstered the club's efforts to attract more support from the city's Asian community. He launched his own Zesh Rehman Foundation, aiming to attract more Asians into football and to use the game as a vehicle to help young people from all backgrounds improve themselves.

He also played for Norwich, Brighton and Blackpool on loan. and Gillingham.

He played for England at Under 17, 18, 19 and 20 level and has since gone on to represent, and captain, the full Pakistan national team.

After a decade as a professional footballer in England, Rehman moved to Thailand in 2011 for a new challenge. He joined the champions Muangthong United. He went on to play in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Rehman has also attained the UEFA Pro Licence, the highest level of coaching award.

Rehman worked with various campaigns including Kick It Out and was an ambassador for the Asian Football Network. He says that whilst his focus is on playing football, not issues of race, he would enjoy being someone who other young Asian players could look up to:

“I think there are quite a lot of things that stop Asians making it in football. Firstly is the fact there is no role model. No one to look up to and say 'yeah maybe it can happen'.

Also I think we get stereotyped a lot as being too weak or not having the right diet. Also people presume we like cricket more. Generally you just feel people are judged even before they have been watched.”