Thailand South Korea

Five Former Thai League Players in Korea

Gian Chansrichawla

Football Tribe SEA Editor


The K League has attracted global attention as one of the only competitions currently playing due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking to expand its international outreach, the league made overtures toward fans from Southeast Asia by introducing an ASEAN quota, aiming to emulate the success the J.League had in the region.

However, while no clubs have signed an ASEAN star as of yet, there are a number of former Thai League players currently plying their trade in Korea:

Jonatan Reis - Busan I'Park

Brazilian forward Jonatan Reis lit up the Thai League when he spearheaded Prachuap's first-ever T1 campaign, scoring 26 goals to help the Killer Wasps achieve a remarkable 6th-place finish and earn himself a place in the team of the season. However, the attacker has struggled since, failing to reignite the same form with spells at Suphanburi and BG Pathum United after turning up unfit for the 2019 campaign. The move to Korea could help Reis reinvigorate his career, but he will need to show his old sharpness and killer instinct if he wishes to succeed in the league.

Soony Saad - Ansan Greeners

The only K-League 2 entry on the list, American-born Lebanese international Soony Saad signed for BEC Tero from MLS side Sporting Kansas City in 2015. However, he didn't make any appearances for the Fire Dragons, spending a year on loan at Pattaya United after their return to the top flight. He scored 9 goals from 28 appearances before returning to the MLS.

Edgar Bruno da Silva - Daegu FC

Edgar joined defending champions Buriram United in 2018, joining a side which had just won the title with a record points tally, and had high expectations. He was tasked with replacing target-man Jaja Coelho, who scored 34 goals in as many games the season prior before being released by the club for bad off-field habits. With big shoes to fill, the 6-foot-3 target main struggled to build the same relationship with talisman Diogo Luis Santo and was sold despite scoring 8 goals in the first half of the season.

Junior Negrao - Ulsan Hyundai

Brazilian striker Junior Negrao joined Muangthong United at the start of the 2016 season as the side were aiming to build a squad capable of challenging for the Thai League title again. However, the Brazilian struggled in the side's two AFC Champions League qualifiers (against Johor Darul Ta'zim and Shanghai SIPG) and the Supercup against Buriram, and he was loaned out to Pattaya United before the start of the league campaign.

Negrao went on to score an impressive 20 goals from 29 appearances, catching the eye of Daegu and later Ulsan, and has become a fan favorite in Korea.

Osmar Ibanez - FC Seoul

Considered to be one of the best defenders to ever play in the Thai League, Osmar has left an impressive legacy from his time in the Thai League. Joining midway through the 2012 season, he helped Buriram win both domestic cups before leading them to win back their title from Muangthong United in 2013. He also impressed in the AFC Champions League, helping Buriram become the first Thai side to reach the quarter-finals of the continental competition.

He has been repeatedly praised by fans and teammates alike for his excellent quality and leadership ability. He joined FC Seoul at the end of that season, having faced off against them in the AFC Champions League group stage, and has since become a household name for the capital club.