Chinese footballers in Britain

Remember Dong Fangzhao, a young striker released by Man United?

Sadly, Chinese strikers have not fared well abroad, but their compatriots who played other positions have done.

Fan Zhiyi (Defender, Crystal Palace) 1998-2001


First expatiate footballer from China to play in Britain. Sun Jihai would join him at Crystal Palace on a loan spell a year later.

Sun Jihai (Defender, Man City) 2002-08 (Crystal Palace, 1999)


The most successful of his countrymen to play football in Britain. Considered a legend in his homeland due to his commitment and versatility in many positions. Will be remembered for a brilliant goal-line clearance against Fulham’s Tomasz Radzinski, with David James having lurched out of his penalty box to try to score an equaliser from a City free-kick. However, some terrible dribbling and ball control from James allowed Fulham to counter-attack and shoot at an empty goal.

Sun went on to coach Sheffield United and play for Chengdu Blades and Guizhou Renhe.

Li Tie (Midfielder, Everton) 2002-06


Had a successful initial loan spell at Everton. His subsequent permanent deal was followed by a crushing struggle against injuries, restricting him to just 34 appearances for Everton in four years.

Li would too join Sheffield United as part of their partnership with Chengdu Blades, whom he later played for. Ended his career at home town club Liaoning.

Zheng Zhi (Defender/Midfielder, Charlton & Celtic) 2007-10


Had a successful spell at Charlton as a goal-scoring midfielder. A short spell at Celtic followed, then returned to China to play for Guangzhou Evergrande.

Zheng is the captain of the Chinese national team

Frank Soo remains the only player of Chinese descent to have played for England (wartime, 1942-45)


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