Zesh Rehman appointed new Southern head coach

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Zesh Rehman, Pakistani international, and the first British Asian to play in the English Premier League has been appointed the head coach of Hong Kong Premier League side Southern.

Rehman prolonging his career in Hong Kong

Zesh Rehman has been a big presence in Hong Kong football, ever since signing for Kitchee from Muangthong United in Thailand on 11 January 2012. He made 64 appearances for Kitchee and picked plenty of shiny pots up along during his short stint. 

He helped Kitchee win the League Cup, retain the league title, and then win the FA Cup, meaning that Kitchee won a historic treble back in 2012 this has never been matched by a Hong Kong club.

In December 2013, Rehman left Kitchee, for Malaysian side, Pahang FA. Just like the Terminator, however, he would be back.

Return to Hong Kong with Southern

On 14 June 2017, Rehman announced via his Twitter page that he had signed with Southern, returning to Hong Kong for the first time since 2013. Rehman apparently turned down plenty of offers around the world in order to return to Hong Kong, a country (or region depending on where you're located) where he has arguably had his best success in his career.

Rehman has played a big role at Southern since his return to Hong Kong, he has performed in 32 matches for the club. But, he has also held positions as U18 manager, head coach of the Southern Football Academy, and now he seems to have become a player-manager, a position that is rarely heard of these days.

At age 36, it is doubtful if he will play many games, and he may just concentrate on his managerial role. He will likely combine his work with his continuing role as an ambassador for the Asian Football Network where he tries to encourage more Asian players to take up the sport.

Controversy in 2007

He caused controversy in 2007 when in an interview with the British weekly newspaper the Eastern Eye he said that players of Asian descent should consider sticking to their roots rather than dreaming of playing for England. 

Rehman pointed to Michael Chopra and David Nugent, who both were top scorers in the Championship, but Nugent was called up for England while Chopra was not. Rehman claimed "Why wasn't (Chopra) picked ahead of Dave Nugent? He's the top goal scorer in the Championship but he can't get in (the England set-up). So he needs to maybe look at his decision and go play for India instead of hanging on to the dream of playing for England, because it's not going to happen, end of discussion."

On this view, we completely agree with big Zesh, international football would be a more competitive place if players played for a country they were likely to play more instead of pining to play for the likes of England where they would receive more recognition and big sponsor endorsements if they were successful with a bigger, more popular nation.

Zesh and Hong Kong seem to be a good fit, and it will be interesting to see if he can turn his hand from being a coach to become the main man at the club, some can do it, some cannot. 

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