Asian teams are known to be quite the underdogs at the FIFA World Cup. But many Asian footballers have excelled on football’s grandest stage throughout the course of the FIFA World Cup.

Especially in the latest FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Asian players have rocked the stadium with their stunning performance. This has shed quite a light on Asian footballers, and many people are curious to know more about them.

If you are someone who loves to watch soccer and is interested to know more about Asian players, then you’re at the right place. Take a look at these 8 Asian players with the most appearances at FIFA World Cup. 

1. Hong Myung-bo 

In 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002, Hong became the first football player from Asia to play in four World Cups. Between 1990 to 2002, he played 136 games for South Korea as a legendary defender. Hong Myung-bo has always topped the charts as one of the best football players in Asia.

Throughout his career, he excelled as a defender for the Korean national football team. Although he lacked speed and technique, he was a man-to-man aggressive sweeper with excellent vision who could shift plays via long-range passes.

Hong led the well-known South Korean team that won the 2002 Cup Final. Against Spain, he converted the go-ahead penalty. This led South Korea to enter the semifinals. He was considered the event’s third-best player and received the Bronze Ball, making him the first Asian to claim it.

2. Yoto Nagatamo

Yoto Nagatomo has participated in the most FIFA World Cup games of any Japanese footballer with 15 games played. The left-back, 36, was a productive player on the Japanese national football team, swiftly making a name for himself at Club Tokyo.

He had a great run with Tokyo FC before being picked into the national squad for the 2010 World Cup. Nagatomo has contributed significantly to the squad despite having only two markers in the World Cup. Among Japanese footballers, 

Nagatomo has the record for the highest number of appearances in the FIFA World Cup. He hasn’t been issued a yellow card in the previous three World Cups.

3. Park Ji-Sung

Park played 100 times for South Korea from 2000 to 2011, collecting a total of 13 goals. Park was an important member of the squad that placed fourth in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and is renowned for his flexibility, stamina, composure, and off-the-ball mobility.

He also participated in the championship’s 2006 and 2010 iterations. According to player statistics, Park is one of Asia’s most renowned Asian midfielders and among the most honored Asian athletes of all time.

He was known as “Three-Lungs” Park because of his endurance and was the first player from Asia to have participated in major soccer leagues such as the UEFA Champions League, as well as the Club World Cup. 

4. Young-Pyo Lee 

Lee made 127 appearances for the South Korean national squad from 1999 to 2011. In total, Lee scored five goals during this time. Young-Pyo Lee was a left-back, reputed for his speed and dribbling ability.

High praise was given to the left-back during the 2002 World Cup by Guus Hiddink. He provided two assists in the game, one each against Italy and Portugal which led to the end of Italy’s participation.

He was lauded for his performance in the Netherlands in 2004–2005. Tottenham purchased him in 2005 against fierce opposition from Serie A teams. His club manager referred to him as the best left-back of his time in Holland.

5. Makoto Hasebe 

From 2010 to 2018, the seasoned center-back captained Japan in 3 World Cups. He got his debut for his country in a 2006 friendly match against the USA under Zico, however, he was left off the World Cup roster.

After losing to Belgium 3-2 in the 2018 World Cup, he left his position and gave the captain’s armband to Maya Yoshida. 

6. Eiji Kawashima 

Eiji Kawashima appeared in 3 FIFA world cups. After winning Goalie of the Year honors at the AFC Youth Championships in 2002, the player was called up to the national team in 2007.

Kawashima was first chosen for the 2010 World Cup and rose to the position of starting goalkeeper of Japan as a result of his brilliance in the friendly match against England. The 39-year-old traveled to Qatar with the Japan team but was not selected for the starting lineup.

7. Nam-Il Kim

Nam-II Kim participated in the World Cups of 2002, 2006, and 2010. One of South Korea’s strongest tournament displays came from this defensive midfielder who was another member of the 2002 World Cup squad.

He participated in every match in 2002 up to the quarterfinals, before an ankle ailment prevented him from playing. 

Guus Hiddink, the South Korean coach at the time, gave him the nickname “Vaccum Cleaner” because of his outstanding endurance and never-ending energy. 

8. Lee Woon-Jae

Lee Woon-Jae made 133 matches for South Korea from 1994 to 2010, including appearances in the 1994, 2002, 2006, as well as 2010 World Cups.

Only seven footballers from Asia have participated in four distinct World Cup editions, including him. The most significant save for South Korea at the 2002 World Cup was made by Lee.

When South Korea played Spain in the quarterfinals after overcoming Italy, after stopping Jaoquin’s penalty shot in the shootout versus Spain, Woon-Jae-Lee emerged as the winner. South Korea advanced to the World Cup semifinals thanks to his effort. 


Although Asian players did not have as many appearances in the FIFA World Cup as other nations’, their continuous efforts are rising up in recent years. We anticipate seeing many more Asian footballers make their impact on the largest platform in international football in the years to come.

Whether you are watching FIFA World Cup live streaming or witnessing it live, you must keep your eyes on these emerging stars. For now, let’s keep on rooting for our Asian heroes and look forward to their next achievement.