Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Amir Khan is a household name in Britain.
Amir Khan is a household name in Britain.

British Asians are growing in support for adopted nation

Some Asian names who made it big playing for United Kingdom.

Some Asian names who made it big playing for United Kingdom.


Ten years ago, Nasser Hussain wrote in an English Sunday newspaper: "I really cannot understand why those [Asians] born here, or who came here at a very young age like me, cannot support or follow England."

Thanks in part to the Madras-born former Essex batsman's success in the international game, many do follow England now.

Hussain, who was brought up in an area of Essex with a large Asian population, played 96 Tests for England, including many as captain. Bopara is also a product of the academy Hussain's father, Joe, founded.

While relatively few have been able to follow his lead to date, he has at least shown it can be done.



Ravi Bopara said this week that the only way he could keep his place in the England cricket team would be to "knock someone out".

He was speaking metaphorically, but England's other batsmen should beware: evidence suggests some British Asians pack a considerable punch.

In boxing, more than any other sport, British Asians - Pakistanis in particular - have reached the top and become household names.

Amir Khan earned the respect of the nation when he won a silver medal for Great Britain at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and has since gone on to win world titles in the professional game. He was born in Bolton to a family originating in Rawalpindi.



Zesh Rehman, a Birmingham-born British Pakistani, appeared for England at a variety of age-group levels for England, as well as in the Premier League for Fulham. However, the centre-half remains in a minority of one, and his career, too, has now led him away from the UK.

He is currently playing in Thailand, and in 2005 he ceded his chances of ever representing England at senior level when he opted to play for Pakistan instead.

Michael Chopra, the Ipswich Town striker who was born in Newcastle to an Indian father, explored the chance of playing for India at this year's Asian Cup in Qatar.

Although he did not appear for them then, he has indicated he would be willing to do so in the future.



John Kirwan, the Japan coach and former All Black, recently predicted that Asia will become the next great power in rugby union.

That seems a little far-fetched at the moment, and it would need something seismic to get British Asians into the sport.

Despite the cosmopolitan nature of English rugby - the current national squad includes players born in Kenya, Australia, Samoa, South Africa and New Zealand - there has yet to be an Asian player of note.

If the prominence of Britons from a subcontinental background in cricket is linked to the influence of their national team, rugby has much catching up to do. India are ranked No 73 in the current International Rugby Board standings.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Chelsea players argue with Atletico Madrid during their scoreless draw in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday. Gerard Julien / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Chelsea lock horns with Atletico in scoreless Champions League draw

Chelsea held Atletico Madrid scoreless at home on Tuesday as the two will head to Stamford Bridge for a winner-take-all second leg.

 Real Madrid players Angel Di Maria, left, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Marcelo attend a training session at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training grounds outside Madrid on April 22, 2014. Real Madrid will play Bayern Munich in a Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match in Madrid on Wednesday. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

In pictures: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale train with Real Madrid

A well-rested Real Madrid side trains on Tuesday ahead of their Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. Stadnouts Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are both expected to be in action at the Bernabeu.

 Walter Zenga wants his Al Jazira side to continue building on the recent positive results they have had in Asian Champions League, even though they have already qualified for the knockout stage. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga aims for Al Jazira to carry momentum in Asian Champions League

The Al Jazira coach Walter Zenga is set to field his strongest line-up as the UAE club seek to topple Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab as leaders of Group A.

 Sourav Ganguly, left, and Sanjiv Goenka, vice-chairman of RPG Enterprises, pose with footballs during a press conference to announce their ownership of the Kolkata franchise in the upcoming Indian Super League on April 14, 2014. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

Indian Super League high on ambition, short-seeming on the football

While a number of high-profile figures are throwing in with the Indian Super League hoping to make a splash in world football, many local voices are arguing the foundation for the tournament is shaky.

 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Gareth Bale share a laugh during training on Tuesday. Both players will be fit for Wednesday night’s Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg against Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu. Chema Moya / EPA

Rested Real Madrid side hope to catch Bayern Munich on a slide

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be fit for Real Madrid in Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match while the holders are trying to recover from a Bundesliga slump.

 Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich will lead his team against Real Madrid in a Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match on Wednesday night. Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Toni Kroos is a wanted man at Bayern Munich

Kroos’s talks with Bayern over renewing a contract have stalled while Manchester United, and Wednesday night’s opponents, Real Madrid, are among those keen to offer him an alternative place of work, writes Ian Hawkey.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National