Indonesia is crazy about football.
But traditionally, the standard of football in the country has not matched its passion. That is no longer the case. Indonesia has been called “The new China,” in reference to the recent big spending from Indonesian clubs to bring the stars from the Television to the archipelago. And the fans couldn’t be happier.
So here are 6 premier league stars that currently play, or used to play, in Indonesia’s Liga Primer…
1) Peter Odemwingie
Odemwingie was banging in the goals in the Premier League only 2 seasons ago.
Now he has chosen the quaint island of Madura to experience the twilight of his career. And can you blame him?
Halfway through his first season at Madura United, he still has an eye for goal, scoring 12 goals in 12 games.
2) Micheal Essien
We all remember the beast that Micheal Essien was for Chelsea and Real Madrid in midfield.
He now brings that experience of top class football to Persib Bandung FC week in, week out.
Winner of 2 Premier Leagues, 3 FA Cups and 1 League Cup, Essien is a modern football legend. And we are over the moon to have him playing in Indonesia.
3) Carlton Cole
West Ham Hero Carlton Cole also joined Essien at Persib Bandung.
The bullish forward scored some crucial goals for his former club, earning him 7 England caps in the process.
At 33 years old, Carlton is the youngest on our list, and we look forward to seeing what he’s got left.
4) Didier Zakora
Zakora made a name for himself as a tenacious defensive midfielder at Tottenham Hotspur between 2006-2009.
With 123 caps for the Ivory Coast, he has played more games for his country than any other player – even more than Diddier Drogba and Yaya Toure.
The former Seville and Saint-Etienne player, now sporting some mad facial hair, is applying his trade at Semen Padang, in West Sumatra.
5) Marcus Bent
Going back a few years, journeyman striker Marcus Bent found his way to Mitra Kukar, In East Kalimantan.
His reasoning for coming to Indonesia?
“I didn’t want to be based up north (England).” Understandable.
With almost 100 career goals, Indonesia had the pleasure of seeing his final professional goal in 2012.
6) Lee Hendrie
Remember this guy?
This Robbie Williams lookalike – now a tough pub quiz question – was once a formidable force in the Premier League.
Lee Hendrie played over 250 times for his home town club Aston Villa, before moving to the now dissolved Bandung FC in 2011.
As the first Premier League player to play in Indonesia, he arguably opened the flood gates for players of an international calibre to play in Indonesia. Cheers Lee.
Until now, our football heroes have been playing on the other side of the world, only visible through expensive TV packages. Now, they are coming to us.
We hope that this is a new chapter in Indonesian football because the national team has always underachieved on the world stage. Perhaps by playing with stars who have tasted and succeeded in the most competitive league in the world, raw Indonesian football talent can prosper.
Before long, Indonesia will be going to the World Cup!