Rehman began his career at Fulham, then played in all four English leagues before moving to Asia in 2011. He played in Thailand, Malaysia and ended up in Hong Kong, where he is currently at premier league side Southern FC. He is also a Pakistan national team player.
“I’ve always tried to look ahead and prepare for a transition out of the game,” Rehman said in an interview with the English Professional Footballers’ Association, of which he is a member. “I’ve heard about career transitions that didn’t go as smoothly as hoped, which sped up my own process of preparing for the future.”
“The fact that you could log into lectures at any time was a big attraction for me”— by Zesh Rehman
“In the last 4 years, I’ve made a conscious effort to engage in education by completing all of my coaching badges up to the UEFA Pro Licence and studying for a Sports Management degree, trying to make the most of my time between playing, family and travelling.”
The Sports Management course is organized by FIFPRO and University College Northern Denmark to give active players the opportunity to take online classes.
“The university was very flexible and accommodating; they let me take exams in Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia, England and one even in Qatar while on international duty.”
“The fact that you could log into lectures at any time was a big attraction for me. It was so easy to catch up if you missed something, and it never felt like a burden. The lecturers were great at making sure they provided everything you needed. It was a fantastic course to be part of.”
Rehman enjoyed studying alongside like-minded sportspeople. “We were all in the same boat and pulled each other through. They really understood the challenges I was facing, which made the whole journey more manageable.”
“The best part was not dropping out after the first semester! It was a bit of wake-up call as I found it difficult. It made me realise I needed to pull my finger out and get up to speed in terms of what's required.”
“Sticking with it right to the end was a big achievement for me.”
Rehman is not thinking about quitting his playing career yet, but he has special plans. “When I started playing football my vision was to become the first British Asian professional football player to play in all the English leagues, which I did. Now I want to be the first British Asian coach to be involved in the Premier League or Football League.”
Top photo: Zesh Rehman playing for Gillingham. (Photo Hollandse Hoogte)