Today’s edition of Rest of the World features two teams that, at first glance, may not appear to have anything in common, but as you may have figured out by now, I have uncovered a similarity based upon their Premier League representatives. Both Kosovo and Pakistan have each had a single player in the league, one at the start of his career with every chance of a return, whereas the other is a 33-year-old who faded into insignificance.


Kosovo can be referred to as an infant country having just declared independence from Serbia as recently as 2008. Situated in the south-east of Europe, Kosovo was a hotspot for activity during the Balkan Wars but has since developed into a country that is regarded as having an extremely solid economic growth since it’s conception. The national team sit at a lowly 180th position in the FIFA rankings, which is mainly due to the team only being recognised by the organisation in 2016. They have only played seven official matches since then, winning only the first one, a 2-0 win against the Faroe Islands.

Bersant Celina (Manchester City 2014-present)

Bersant Celina was born in Yugoslavia in 1996, but moved to Norway with his family at the age of two. This is where he signed his first youth contract with Strømsgodset, before he got picked up by Manchester City’s youth academy in 2012. The midfielder was called up to the first team for the first time in 2014, when he was brought in for cover during the busy Christmas period. However, after acting as a full-time benchwarmer, he didn’t make his Premier League debut until February 2016, when he replaced David Silva in the home fixture against Leicester City. Celina made the most of his 13 minutes in the spotlight by producing a dangerous cross for Sergio Aguero to head home from less than six yards. The goal was but a consolation, as City went down 3-1 to the eventual champions.

Apparently, this was not enough to impress then manager, Manuel Pellegrini as he hasn’t made a league appearance since and has only been given a handful of FA Cup runouts. A loan spell with FC Twente last season was enough to gift Celina a brand new three-year-deal, but he has been sent out on loan once again, this time with Championship outfit, Ipswich Town.

Celina represented his adoptive country, Norway, through youth football but has since switched to Kosovo, a country that is younger than he is. To date he has played six times for his country picking up one goal. Oddly enough this makes him the joint-fourth most capped player and the joint third highest scorer…not a particularly impressive accolade.


A country more well known for playing cricket matches, well, fixing cricket matches but that’s another story for another time, Pakistan is one of the lesser-known footballing countries in Asia. It’s hard to pick a country ranked lower than Kosovo, so it’s impressive that I’ve found one. Pakistan sit at 200th, sandwiched between the US Virgin Islands and Montserrat (a country that will make an appearance later in this series). I had to trawl through the history of the national team to find anything positive to mention and all that I can come up with was joint winners of the Colombo Cup back in 1952. Unsurprisingly, probably due to lack of popularity, this tournament hasn’t been played since 1956.

Zesh Rehman (Fulham 2003-06)

Born in Birmingham, Zeshan Rehman was the first British Asian to play in the Premier League when he represented his boyhood club, Fulham in 2003. Unfortunately for the defender, he never found a club at which he could settle, and began his tour of the English football leagues. Sticking around the south-east area, Rehman represented Brighton (twice), Norwich and QPR, he admitted that he was relived to get out of the hustle and bustle of London when he was loaned to Blackpool in 2008. He also stated that he hoped he had done enough to warrant securing a permanent deal…he had not and he returned to QPR.

After playing for Bradford between 2009 and 2010, Rehman made an interesting career move when he jetted back to Asia. Sadly, he didn’t get into the Chinse Super League in the early stages, but instead joined Muangthong United in Thailand, although I bet the money wasn’t bad there either. He since moved on to Kitchee (Hong Kong), Pahang (Malaysia) and Southern (Hong Kong), with a surprising stop off at Gillingham in the middle…definitely one extreme to the other.

Rehman started his youth international career by becoming the first English-born Pakistani to play in the Three Lions. By the time senior football came around he stuck to his roots, which is something he urged future players of Asian descent to do. He has since represented Pakistan 18 times and even captained then during the prestigious Peace Cup in 2013. Since then, he can add app developer to his resume after he produced an application to help overseas players overcome language barriers at new clubs. Don’t ask me how it differs from other language learning systems but I’m sure it’s doing well.