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Countdown: The Top 10 Asian footballers of all time

Trying to select the 10 best players in Asian history is not easy with players from different eras making their marks in different ways for different teams in different leagues. Still, with the 2015 Asian Cup upon us, ESPN FC has had a go.

10. Younis Mahmoud
Country: Iraq
Position: Striker
International caps: 130
International goals: 51

He may not have been quite as sharp in front of goal as Iraqi legends Hussein Saeed and Ahmad Radhi but there have been few players in Asian history that have had the influence on and off the pitch as this "Desert Fox". Almost eight years on, it is easy to forget just how big a deal Iraq winning the Asian Cup back in 2007 actually was. Younis was immense, finishing the tournament as joint top scorer and the winning captain. He also scored the only goal in the final. That would probably be enough but his career has been long and will be long remembered.

9. Kazuyoshi Miura
Country: Japan
Position: Striker
International caps: 89
International goals: 55

It is almost unfortunate that the striker is still playing professionally in Japan at the age of 47 -- no typos there -- because amazement at such truly impressive longevity can detract from how good he was. One of the first of an east Asian generation to go to Brazil as a teenager to learn and play, he was the J. League's MVP in its first ever season, way back in 1993. He scored 55 times for the national team and his goals were made even more memorable due to the "Kazu" celebration dance.

8. Javad Nekounam
Country: Iran
Position: Midfielder
International caps: 145
International goals: 37

A few Asian players have tried their luck in Spain in recent years -- Shunsuke Nakamura and Lee Chun-soo to name two -- but none really made an impact until the "Prince of Persia" landed in La Liga back in 2006. His six years at Osasuna saw him make his mark as a fine midfield player in a league that was possibly the best in the world. He has been immense for Iran as well and could pass the 150 international appearance mark in the next few weeks, becoming his country's most-capped player in the process.

7. Sami Al Jaber
Country: Saudi Arabia
Position: Striker
International caps: 156
International goals: 46

"The Eagle" circled around the heights of Asian football for years and is a genuine legend of the Saudi Arabian game. Al Jaber scored in three of the four World Cups he played in and he appeared over 160 times for his country. His club career was equally impressive, scoring close to 200 goals for Al Hilal as they won six domestic league titles and two Asian Club Championships. An attempt to make it in Europe did not go well and injuries hampered his time at Wolves in England.

6. Tim Cahill
Country: Australia
Position: Midfielder
International caps: 76
International goals: 36

Qualified as an Asian representative when the Socceroos joined the Asian Football Confederation nine years ago and has done plenty in that time. Has scored five World Cup goals, performed well at Asian Cups and been one of the most consistent midfielders to play in the English Premier League. Even at the ripe old age of 34 at the last World Cup, the Socceroo still made an unforgettable impact. Still firing on all cylinders, nobody would be surprised if the ex-Everton man ends this Asian Cup as top scorer.

5. Ali Daei
Country: Iran
Position: Striker
International caps: 149
International goals: 109

Nobody has scored as many in the international arena as the Iranian legend. Daei found the net for his country an amazing 109 times -- and who could forget the four he grabbed in the quarterfinal of the 1996 Asian Cup against South Korea? That performance is still talked about in Tehran and Seoul. Joined Bayern Munich and sat on the bench for the 1999 Champions League final. Perhaps damaged his legacy a little by hanging around too long but it's still a fine legacy to leave.

4. Park Ji-sung
Country: South Korea
Position: Midfielder
International caps: 100
International goals: 23

Possessing the most glittering Asian resume ever, Patk Ji-sung played a major role in his team getting to the World Cup semifinals in 2002 -- the best ever showing by the giant continent. He also captained the Taeguk Warriors to the second round in 2010 when he became the first Asian player to score at three consecutive World Cups. After starring in Europe for PSV Eindhoven, Park joined Manchester United where he became the only Eastern star to win the UEFA Champions League. That medal competes for space on his mantelpiece along with four English Premier League medals, two Dutch titles, one FIFA Club World Cup as well as various cup prizes from England, Netherlands and Japan. To play at the top level so well for so long for both club and country was truly impressive.

3. Hidetoshi Nakata
Country: Japan
Position: Midfielder
International caps: 77
International goals: 11

The elegant midfielder was the first Asian superstar of the modern football era and did more than anyone to change global perceptions of the Asian game, moving to Serie A when the league was probably at its peak in terms of talent, influence and popularity. There have been a few Asian stars to try their luck in Italy, but until recently only Nakata had been a success. His performances for Perugia earned a move to Roma where he helped the team win the Italian league title. Soon after, he was on his way to Parma in what is still the biggest transfer fee ever paid for an Asian star. Throw in three World Cups, two Asian Football of the Year awards and you have quite a career even if it ended prematurely at 29.

2. Paulino Alcantara
Country: Spain/Philippines
Position: Striker
International caps: 5/2
International goals: 6/1

A native of Iloilo, Alcantara was Barcelona's leading goalscorer of all-time until 2014 when a certain Lionel Messi broke the long-standing record. Still, 369 goals coming from 357 games confirms his legendary status at Barca, and he even had a short spell in charge of the Spanish national team -- not many from Asia can match that.

1. Cha Bum-kun
Country: South Korea
Position: Striker
International caps: 121
International goals: 55

Alex Ferguson called him "unstoppable". Lothar Matthäus said he was one of the best attackers in the world and Jurgen Klinsmann put himself a level below. Despite all the acclaim from around the world in the pre-internet and satellite age, Cha Bum-kun really would have been a superstar if he had been born two decades later. Already approaching legend status in his homeland, he moved to Germany in 1978. In 10 years in the Bundesliga, he scored almost 100 goals. "Cha Boom" helped Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen to UEFA Cup success at a time when the trophy was genuinely a big deal and perhaps as hard to win as the European Cup itself. A genuine world-class talent.