Dong Fangzhou joins Manchester United

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:05 IST

Dong Fangzhou has become the first ever Chinese footballer to join English Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Dong Fangzhou joins Manchester United

Dalian:

Dong Fangzhou has become the first ever Chinese footballer to join English Premier League leaders Manchester United. The 18-year-old prodigy, who currently plays for China's leading club Dalian Shide, signed for the English Champions in a 3.5 million pound (US$ 6.48 million) deal on January 3, 2004. Dong will begin his United career on loan at Belgian club Royal Antwerp as he is yet to be granted a UK work permit. The English Champions will pay an initial sum of 500,000 pounds for the 18 year old striker - which could eventually rise to 3.5 million pounds depending on the number of appearances he makes for the club. Dong was one of a number of China's best players who went for trials at Old Trafford in August last year, before signing a deal with the English giants. "They (Manchester United) were very good to me. When I was on my way over, it was all unimaginable and surprising to me. But when I got there, the surroundings and environment gave me a very good impression," Dong said. Dong's deal may have been confirmed, but the striker will have to wait before pulling on the club's famous red shirt. As Dong does not yet qualify for a UK work permit, he will begin his United career at Belgian feeder club Royal Antwerp at the start of next season. But despite impressing United manager Sir Alex Ferguson sufficiently to clinch the dream move, his club is unhappy that the their youngster is switching clubs at such an early stage of his career. Dong had an impressive if short career with Dalian, starting with their Youth team in the 2000. Two years later Dong was selected for China's Under 23 national team, also representing Dalian Shide in last year's inaugural Asian Champions League. Dong will come up against familiar faces in Manchester when he finally arrives in the Premier League - former Dalian defender Sun Jihai, the first Chinese international to play in the Premier League, plays for city rivals Manchester City. (AP)



Topics : Football
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