Zeshan Rehman (Urdu: ذيشان رحمان; born 14 October 1983) is an English-born Pakistani professional footballer who plays as a defender and is currently the player-manager of Hong Kong Premier League club Southern.
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, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as the first Pakistani international to play in the AFC Cup. He started his career at Fulham and made a total of 30 appearances, having loan spells at Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City. A transfer to Queens Park Rangers followed and he went on to make 50 appearances for the club. During his three years there he went on loan to Brighton & Hove Albion, Blackpool and Bradford City, moving permanently to the latter on a free transfer in June 2009. Having previously represented England at under-18, under-19 and under-20 levels, in 2005 he made his debut for Pakistan.
Outside of his playing career, Rehman is known for being an ambassador for Kick It Out and the Show Racism the Red Card campaign, and his efforts to help British Asian players.
In December 2013, Rehman signed for Malayasian club Pahang FA on a two-year contract. His former club Kitchee’s president Ken Ng commented: “Zesh has contributed hugely to Kitchee’s success over the last 2 years and he will be truly missed”. His new club’s manager Zainal Abidin Hassan said that they were “delighted” as he “has chosen to come to Pahang ahead of several other teams.” He justified his reason of joining the club as “his destiny”. In his first season with the club, he won three trophies – Malaysia Super League, Malaysia FA Cup and Malaysia Cup, thus winning qualification to the 2015 AFC Cup. In the cup, he played six times without scoring a goal.
In 2015, Zesh helped Pahang to finish second in the Malaysia Super League, the highest finish for the club in over a decade and in doing so became the highest goalscoring defender in the league netting 6 times, he scored 8 goals in all competitions throughout the season. Pahang also created history by reaching the AFC Cup quarter-final for the first time in their history. Zesh played the majority of the season in Midfield displaying his versatility to the team, performing admirably in the holding role. He played 45 from 46 games in all competitions his best career stats in a season to date. Throughout the year he also achieved some personal milestones such as playing over 300 career games across four nations and notching up 100+ games in Asia and completing five years of playing competitive football in the Asia region. He was handed the captain badge at the beginning of their season.
On 28 June 2016, Zesh announce via his social media accounts he had amicably agreed to terminate with Pahang FC after a successful 3-year spell at the club. Zesh said, “I would love a future return in a coaching role, something which was offered to me at the start of this season but was not the right moment for me. I will be back to visit my son’s birthplace of Kuantan. Pahang has the best fans in Malaysia & are by far the best I have played for. Leaving here on excellent terms with the hierarchy, fantastic memories & many formed friendships. Good luck to all the staff & team for the rest of the season. Thank you”. Pahang FC was equally pleased with his contribution. Club CEO and Vice President Datuk Akbar V V Abu was quoted as saying: “Zesh served as an excellent player for Pahang for 3 years in a successful trophy-winning team. His example and leadership to the young and local players were outstanding. The door for a future return is open anytime. We would love to see him back in a coaching role one day”