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Zesh Rehman
Zesh Rehman York City v. Bradford City 1.png
Personal information
Full name Zeshan Rehman
Date of birth 14 October 1983 (1983-10-14) (age 26)
Place of birth    Birmingham, England
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2+12 in)[1]
Playing position Central defender
Club information
Current club Bradford City
Number 5
Senior career1
Years Club App (Gls)*
Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)
Norwich City (loan)
Queens Park Rangers
Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)
Blackpool (loan)
Bradford City (loan)
Bradford City
21 (0)
11 (2)
05 (0)
46 (0)
08 (0)0
03 (0)
17 (0)
21 (1)   
National team2
2005– Pakistan 08 (0)

1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 3 January 2010 (UTC).
2 National team caps and goals correct
as of 1 November 2007.
* Appearances (Goals)

Zeshan "Zesh" Rehman (Urdu: ذيشان رحمان; born 14 October 1983)[2] is a British Pakistani football defender who plays for Bradford City. He was the first British Asian to start a Premier League match and is the first to have played in all four divisions of professional football in England. He also plays for the Pakistan national football team and was the first Pakistani international footballer to play professional football in England.[3][4]

He started his career at Fulham and made a total of 21 league appearances. During his time at Fulham he had loan spells at Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City. In 2005 he switched allegiances to Pakistan from England. A transfer to Queens Park Rangers followed and he went on to make 46 appearances for the West London-based club. During his three year stint there he went on loan to Brighton & Hove Albion, Blackpool and Bradford City. The third transfer of his career involved him moving to Bradford on a free transfer in June 2009. So far Rehman has made eight appearances for the Pakistan national team and has participated in the World Cup 2010 qualifiers. Outside of football he is known for being an ambassador for Kick It Out, the Asian Football Network and the Show Racism The Red Card campaign. In addition to this he has appeared on BBC Radio 1Xtra and writes a blog for Setanta Sports.


Early life

Rehman was born on 14 October 1983 in Birmingham.[5] As a child in Birmingham he played for his local Sunday league team, Kingshurst.[5] He was brought up in the Aston area of the city and often played football on the streets in addition to representing his school, his district and his county in football.[4]

Club career



When he was just twelve years old he was spotted by a scout[4] and moved with his family to London where he joined the Fulham Academy. He progressed through the junior, youth and reserve teams at Fulham.[6] He made his debut for Fulham in 2004 in the Premier League at Anfield against Liverpool, and by doing so he was able to garner some media attention from British Asian groups by being the first British Asian player to play in the top division of English football.[6] Although a centre back by trade, Rehman was used as a holding midfielder as well as right back in his career at Fulham.[7]

Rehman started his career at Craven Cottage

In the 2003–04 season, when he was 19 years old, he was sent on loan to Brighton & Hove Albion, initially for one month until November,[8] however this was extended to three months ending in January 2004.[9] He made eleven league appearances, scoring two goals.[5] In January 2006 he signed for Championship club Norwich City on loan for the rest of the season as defensive cover for the injury-hit club.[10] He made five starts for them.[11]

Having made 30 appearances in all competitions for Fulham, 26 from the starting line up and four as a substitute, Rehman had to consider his options if he was to get regular football. Although he had two years remaining on his contract, he wanted to play regular first team football, and as a result, he decided to spend the next two seasons getting as much experience as possible.[12] He scored once for Fulham, in a League Cup tie against Lincoln City on 21 September 2005.[13]

Queens Park Rangers

On 8 August 2006, just prior to the start of the 2006–07 season, Rehman signed for Championship club Queens Park Rangers (QPR) from Fulham on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.[14] After completing his move, Rehman said, "All I want to do is play; the money doesn't interest me anymore. I could have sat at Fulham and just been happy to pick up my wages but that's not what I am all about."[15]

QPR had only just avoided relegation the previous season and had a new manager in Gary Waddock in charge.[16] In his first season at QPR, Rehman made 27 appearances.[7]

Towards the end of the season Rehman was sent on loan to former club Brighton & Hove Albion for a month where he gained more first team football experience.[17] He made his debut on 24 March 2007 in a 0–0 draw against Huddersfield Town.[18] He ended his loan stint by playing the full 90 minutes, and earning a yellow card in the process, for the final game of the League One season in a 1–1 draw at Cheltenham Town on 5 May 2007, claiming an assist for the opening goal.[19] He featured in eight full games during his loan spell.[5]

Returning to QPR at the start of the new season, chances were limited. The 3–1 victory over Leicester City on New Years Day 2008 was Rehman's 50th game in all competitions since leaving Fulham in 2006.[20] Rehman finished the 2007–08 season in the starting line for QPR against the Championship's new champions, West Bromwich Albion.[21]

Loan move to Blackpool

Rehman joined Blackpool in a six-month loan deal on 31 July 2008, along with teammate Daniel Nardiello, who joined the club on a permanent basis, while Blackpool defender Kaspars Gorkss moved to QPR in exchange.[22][23] He made his debut for Blackpool as a second-half substitute for Jermaine Wright in a 2–0 defeat at League Two club Macclesfield Town in the first round of the 2008–09 Carling Cup on 12 August 2008. He was used as an emergency striker due to injuries to three of the club's strikers.[24] He made his league debut the following Saturday, in a 1–1 draw at Norwich City, coming on early in the second half to replace defender Danny Coid.[25]

Three months into his loan spell, in early October, Rehman said of his move to play for Blackpool: "I'm quite glad to get away from all the hustle and bustle of London. I really like it up here in Blackpool; it's a good club with an ambitious young manager. Hopefully, over the next few months I can convince Simon Grayson I'm worthy of a long-term contract."[15] On 31 December he returned to QPR after having made three league appearances, all of which were as a substitute.[11]

Loan move to Bradford City

On 26 January 2009, Rehman signed a loan deal with League Two club Bradford City, which was to last until the end of the 2008–09 season.[26] Rehman had turned down a chance to move to Luton Town and team up with Mick Harford, who was previously the assistant manager at QPR, and said he was only prepared to drop down to League Two if he joined Bradford City,[27] whose new ambassador Omar Khan helped to engineer the move.[28] Rehman said of the move, "I was only prepared to drop down the leagues to play for this club. I spoke to the manager and chairmen and I know they want to get Bradford back up to where they belong. I’ve been involved in relegation battles in the past and it’s nice to be joining a club pushing for promotion – that’s a good pressure to have."[29] He made his debut the following day in a 1–0 defeat to Bury at Gigg Lane, and in doing so became the first British Asian to play in all four divisions of professional football in England, something which he described in his online blog as "a momentous occasion" and expressed his hope that it inspires the next generation of [British] Asian footballers.[30] He played at left back, coming in for Luke O'Brien, who had taken ill on the day of the match. [31] He made his home debut on 31 January, playing at right back, in a 2–0 home win over Grimsby Town at Valley Parade.[32] In March he turned down the chance to play for Pakistan in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifiers in order to help Bradford's push for promotion.[33]

Bradford City

"It’s all about feeling wanted and appreciated as a player and this feels like my club."
Zesh Rehman, 20 May 2009.[34]

After being released by QPR on 19 May,[35] Rehman signed a two-year deal with Bradford City on 19 June, saying of the move, "My gut feeling told me to sign for Bradford and I've absolutely no regrets. From day one I felt at home here. I'm fortunate enough to have played in all the divisions and I see this as the next step of my journey." The Bradford manager, Stuart McCall also revealed that Rehman had taken a large pay cut by joining the club, adding, "Zesh is certainly not signing for Bradford for money—he wants to be a success here, and it will be great to have him on board."[36]

International career

Rehman originally represented England, and played for them at under-18, under-19 and under-20 levels.[37] Becoming the first British Asian to don an England senior football shirt seemed too far away, however, due to lack of first team opportunities at Fulham. Due to his Pakistani parentage, and because he possessed dual Pakistani and British nationality, Rehman also qualified to represent Pakistan, and he eventually opted to play for them, as he considered it to be a more realistic option.[38 ] A lot of British Asian groups were against this and wanted him to fight more for an England place to set a standard for British Asian youth.[15][38 ]

It was, however, an unrealistic aspiration.[15] With that in mind, and with the blessings of his father, Rehman made his international debut for Pakistan in a 1–0 win over Sri Lanka in the 2005 South Asian Football Federation Championship on 7 December 2005 at the Peoples Football Stadium in Karachi.[39] Rehman described his international debut as one of the best memories he has in football, adding, "The reception I received from the first moment till the last was unforgettable. I felt loved, appreciated, respected and wanted and most of all the interest in football really grew immensely."[40] Pakistan ultimately reached the semi-finals before losing out to Bangladesh 1–0.[41]

In that short space of time Rehman helped to raise the profile of the game in Pakistan, encouraging youngsters to play the game and also help to raise the profile of Pakistan in the United Kingdom and on a global stage.[42]

Rehman was named in the Pakistan squad for the World Cup 2010 qualifiers against Iraq in October 2007, and played the match in Lahore but could not help contain the current Asian champions Iraq from winning 7–0. In the second leg on 28 October he led Pakistan to a 0–0 draw.[39]

Due to club commitments and injury he had to miss out on the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers for Pakistan, a situation that proved costly for the national team as defensive blunders cost them the chance of qualifying despite a promising start to the campaign.[43] He also had to withdraw from the squad for the SAFF Championship 2008 when he came down with food poisoning.[42]

Rehman questioned the decision to leave Chopra out of the England squad

Rehman caused some 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, then with Cardiff City, who had been overlooked to play for England despite being the top scorer in the Championship, yet David Nugent, who was then at fellow Championship club Preston North End, was picked. 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."[38 ] Rehman though criticised Eastern Eye for how they reported his views, saying, "I’m pleased with my decision (to play for Pakistan) but I had a problem, especially with Eastern Eye. You said I turned my back on England. I didn’t like the way that came across. If [as an Asian] you are not getting opportunities (to play for England) when you are playing in the Premier League, then Asian players are always going to be overlooked. When it comes to it, they need to stick to their roots."[44]

Personal life

Rehman has said that, his "sole purpose in trying to be a success as a professional footballer is to inspire other Asian players to follow my lead and achieve their goals."[15] He is an ambassador for the Asian Football Network (AFN), a grassroots community-led initiative designed to support and facilitate the development of grassroots Asian football in the UK.[45] He has also worked with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) to try and increase the number of British Asians taking up a career in professional football, and has attended meetings with the PFA in order to achieve this goal.[46] In January 2007 he took part in the London 'One Game' initiative held at The FA headquarters in Soho Square, London.[47] He has also been involved in the Show Racism The Red Card campaign and he has taken part in Chelsea's "Search for an Asian Star" campaign.[4] On 12 July 2008 he took part in the Islam Expo event at the Olympia exhibition centre in West Kensington, London, a four day event whose primary purpose was to build bridges between Britain's Muslim communities and the rest of society. Rehman took part in a panel giving feedback from his own experiences about the positive use of sport.[48]

In April 2008, Rehman appeared on the United States based Afghan satellite television network Noor TV and Bangladesh-based Islamic TV discussing being a Muslim footballer and how it is possible to pursue a career in football while sticking to Islamic roots. On 20 April 2008 he was a guest on the BBC Asian Network radio station show Breakdown revealing his favourite Desi music tunes.[49] In May 2008 Rehman was awarded the Community Commitment Award at QPR.[50] In April 2008 Rehman took part in a radio documentary on BBC Radio 1Xtra about British Asians in football which followed his "journey from playground to Premier League".[51] He currently writes a blog for Setanta Sports website.[52]

He lists snooker, cinema and socialising as hobbies. He is also fluent in Punjabi and Urdu as well as English.[12] He has a brother, called Rizwan, who played for Brentford, but was forced to retire early due to an injury.[15]

Club career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Total
2003–04 Fulham Premier League 1 0 - 1 0 2 0
2003–04 Brighton & Hove Albion Second Division 11 2 - 2[nb 1] 0 13 2
2004–05 Fulham Premier League 17 0 2 0 4 0 23 0
2005–06 3 0 - 2 1 5 1
2005–06 Norwich City Championship 5 0 - - 5 87
2006–07 Brighton & Hove Albion League One 8 0 - - 8 99
2006–07 Queens Park Rangers Championship 25 0 1 0 1 0 27 89
2007–08 21 0 - 1 0 22 900
2008–09 Blackpool 3 0 - 1 0 4 0
2008–09 Bradford City League Two 17 0 - 0 0 17 0
2009-10 4 0 - 1 0 5 0
Total England 115 2 3 0 13 1 131 3
Career Total 115 2 3 0 13 1 131 3



  1. ^ The two cup appearances for Brighton in 2003-04 were in the Football League Trophy


  1. ^ "Sky Sports Profile Zesh Rehman". Sky Sports.,19754,11711_225433,00.html. Retrieved 26 May 2009.  
  2. ^ "QPR Profile Zesh Rehman". Queens Park Rangers F.C..,,10373~24613,00.html. Retrieved 22 May 2009.  
  3. ^ Clemmit, Mark (5 March 2009). "Podcast - Episode 25". The Football League.,,10794~1579695,00.htl. Retrieved 2 April 2009.  
  4. ^ a b c d Fletcher, James (17 May 2009). "The Premiership's first asian star: Zesh Rehman". The People. Retrieved 5 June 2009.  
  5. ^ a b c d Pope, Dan. "Back to my roots - Zesh Rehman". The Club House. Retrieved 26 May 2009.  
  6. ^ a b "A dedication to inspire - Will to succeed sees Zesh become a role model". Up The Pool (Blackpool: Blackpool F.C.) 2008-09 season (Blackpool vs Crystal Palace): 34–37. 25 October 2008.  
  7. ^ a b "Transfer Latest". Blackpool F.C.. 31 July 2008.,,10432~1354936,00.html. Retrieved 5 June 2009.  
  8. ^ "Brighton seal Rehman deal". 29 September 2003. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  9. ^ "Duo stay with Brighton". 16 December 2003. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  10. ^ "Canaries swoop for Premier League pair". Professional Footballers' Association. 31 January 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  11. ^ a b "Soccerbase profile". Soccerbase. Retrieved 23 June 2009.  
  12. ^ a b Rehman, Zesh. "Zesh Rehman biography". Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  13. ^ "Fulham 5-4 Lincoln (aet)". BBC. 21 September 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2009.  
  14. ^ "QPR swoop to sign Fulham's Rehman". 8 August 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  15. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Dave (2 October 2008). "Zesh is a perfect role model - Captain of Pakistan, Rehman hopes to manage his country one day". Professional Footballers' Association. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  16. ^ "History of QPR". Queens Park Rangers F.C.. 3 June 2009.,,10373,00.html. Retrieved 24 June 2009.  
  17. ^ "Zeshan Rehman". Bradford City F.C..,,10266~24613,00.html. Retrieved 22 May 2009.  
  18. ^ "Match Report: Brighton 0-0 Huddersfield". Huddersfield Town A.F.C..,,10312~33940,00.html. Retrieved 22 May 2009.  
  19. ^ "Match report: Cheltenham 1-1 Brighton". 5 May 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2009.  
  20. ^ "QPR 3-1 Leicester". 1 January 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2009.  
  21. ^ "QPR 0-2 West Brom". Daily Mirror. 5 May 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2009.  
  22. ^ "Blackpool seal deals for QPR pair". 1 August 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  23. ^ Ahsan, Ali (31 July 2008). "Zesh Rehman moves to Blackpool FC". Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  24. ^ "Macclesfield vs Blackpool". Blackpool F.C.. 12 August 2008.,,10432~46433,00.html. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  25. ^ "Norwich City vs Blackpool". Blackpool F.C.. 16 August 2008.,,10432~43703,00.html. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  26. ^ "Bradford sign QPR defender Rehman". 26 January 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2009.  
  27. ^ "Big Mick missed Pakistan captain". Dunstable Gazette. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2009.  
  28. ^ "Zesh Rehman appreciates significance of his arrival". Bradford City F.C.. 27 January 2009.,,10266~1534230,00.html. Retrieved 24 June 2009.  
  29. ^ Parker, Simon (27 January 2009). "Rehman hoping to prove a big draw". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 28 January 2009.  
  30. ^ "League Milestone!". Zesh Rehman. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2009.  
  31. ^ Parker, Simon (28 January 2009). "Lacklustre City punished by play-off rivals". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 2009-01-28.  
  32. ^ Parker, Simon (2 February 2009). "Jones' luck turns as he breaks City jinx". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 2 February 2009.  
  33. ^ "Rehman chooses club over country". 27 March 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2009.  
  34. ^ Sports Desk (20 May 2009). "Zesh: It's great to be a wanted man". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 12 June 2009.  
  35. ^ "Miller among five released by QPR". 19 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009.  
  36. ^ "Zesh Rehman agrees two-year deal". Bradford City A.F.C.. 19 June 2009.,,10266~1696166,00.html. Retrieved 19 June 2009.  
  37. ^ "Flown From The Nest - Zesh Rehman". Retrieved 23 June 2009.  
  38. ^ a b c Rashid, Zohaib. "Proud to play for Pakistan". Kick It Out. Retrieved 24 June 2009.  
  39. ^ a b Safi, Alam Zeb (6 July 2008). "Foreign coaches can lift football’s graph: Zesh Rehman". Football Pakistan. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  40. ^ Naveed, Malik Riaz Hai (17 October 2007). "Exclusive Interview with Zesh Rehman". Football Pakistan. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  41. ^ "South Asian Gold Cup 2005 (Karachi, Pakistan)". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 20 May 2009.  
  42. ^ a b Ahsan, Ali (2 October 2008). "Zesh is a perfect role model, Rehman hopes to manage his country one day". Football Pakistan. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  43. ^ Ali, Shazad (21 March 2009). "Zesh Rehman unavailable for national team". The Dawn Media Group. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  44. ^ "Pak it in". Eastern Eye. 6 April 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  45. ^ "Zesh Rehman Partners". Retrieved 24 June 2009.  
  46. ^ Pound, Simone. "Players United Against Racism". Professional Footballers' Association. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  47. ^ "Football stars urge grassroots involvement in London 'One Game' evening". Professional Footballers' Association. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2008.  
  48. ^ "F.A. Support Islam Expo Event 11-14 July 08". Zesh Rehman's blog. 12 July 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  49. ^ "BBC Asian Network Schedule for 20 April 2008". BBC Asian Network. 20 April 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  50. ^ "QPR defender Rehman awarded commitment to community award". Kick It Out. 9 May 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  51. ^ "Asian footballers". BBC Radio 1Xtra. 20 April 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  52. ^ "Zesh Rehman". Setanta Sports. Retrieved 1 February 2009.  

External links

Simple English

Zesh Rehman
File:Zesh Rehman York City v. Bradford City
Personal information
Full name Zeshan Rehman
Date of birth 14 October 1983 (1983-10-14) (age 27)
Place of birth    Birmingham, England
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current club Bradford City
Number 5
Senior clubs
Years Club
Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)
Norwich City (loan)
Queens Park Rangers
Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)
Blackpool (loan)
Bradford City
National team
2005-2007 Pakistan

Zesh Rehman (born 14 October 1983) is a Pakistani football player. He has played for Pakistan national team.

Club career statistics


Club Performance League CupLeague CupTotal
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
EnglandLeague FA Cup Football League CupTotal
2003/04FulhamPremier League10001020
2003/04Brighton & Hove AlbionSecond Division1120000112
2004/05FulhamPremier League1702040230
2005/06Norwich CityLeague Championship50000050
2006/07Queens Park RangersLeague Championship2501010270
2006/07Brighton & Hove AlbionLeague One80000080
2007/08Queens Park RangersLeague Championship2100010220
2008/09BlackpoolLeague Championship30001040
2008/09Bradford CityLeague Two1700000170
CountryEngland 111230911233
Total 111230911233

International career statistics


Pakistan national team



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