Ex-Fulham, QPR and Bradford defender Zesh Rehman ready for Christmas Day semi-final date
By Dev Trehan
Last Updated: 25/12/17 5:07pm
Festive fixtures are a tradition in the UK, but one British footballer takes to the field in a cup semi-final - on Christmas Day!
Almost a year ago, Birmingham-born defender Zesh Rehman was finalising a temporary move to relegation-threatened League One side Gillingham.
But now the former Fulham and QPR centre-back lines up for Hong Kong side Southern District in a Senior Shield semi-final against Eastern.
Rehman is relishing the Christmas Day cup tie as he attempts to win his first trophy with Southern, and sealing with it a place in Asia's equivalent of the Champions League.
"It's a new one even for me but I'm really looking forward to it," Rehman told Sky Sports News.
"There have been a lot of rearranged fixtures here in Hong Kong - and I don't think Christmas Day games are very common - but when you've played for as many years as I have, your family get used to you being away around this time.
"There have been times when I have been in hotels on Christmas Day - like the night before I've played away at Plymouth - so it's not unusual for me to be away from the family on Christmas Day.
"But I've never played on Christmas Day before because Boxing Day games are the British tradition, so it will be a new experience for me.
"And this semi-final is massive for Southern District. If we manage to win it then we'll be playing in the Asian Champions League next season."
Rehman resisted interest from English clubs this winter to continue his trophy-laden career in Asia, which has also seen him play in Malaysia and line up alongside Robbie Fowler at Thai side Muangthong United.
He has won seven trophies over the last six years in Asia and now hopes to deliver the perfect Christmas gift to Southern District supporters on December 25.
"The fans here have been great with me and they have taken to me really warmly," added Rehman, who was the first British Asian to play across England's four divisions.
"I've been over here in Hong Kong before. I came over in 2012 and had a really successful spell with FC Kitchee, winning four trophies.
"I've also played in Asian regional competitions for other clubs in but to do so with Southern District would be historic. It would be a really memorable, ground-breaking achievement.
The club have done really well in recent seasons by getting to the quarter-finals and semi-finals of cup competitions. Hopefully I can give the fans an extra Christmas present and help the club go one step further and get to the final."
Super 6 £1m jackpot
Simply predict six correct scores to win Jeff's £1 million. Enter your selections for free here.