With 18 he came from China to Manchester United, Hype was huge. But today hardly anyone remembers the supposed top talent Fangzhuo Dong.

Looking at the athletic career of Fangzhuo Dong, many quickly ask the question: was all just a marketing gag by Manchester United to become popular in China and sell as many jerseys as possible? Or is it the story of a really highly assisted talent, which ultimately did not manage it?

Statements that can be concluded in the latter, there are so many. The by Paul McGuNness, for example, formerly U18 coach at United: “He went straight up to the U23 and great things were expected from him. He was a strong player, really strong. That impressed us: that a player from Asia this physical Level had, “he said to the bleach Report.

Or from Su Mozhen, who came in contact with United 14 years before Dong as a young Chinese player and spent some time at the Red Devils on sample. He had to admit himself sometime that he was not robust and not fast enough to bring it to something in English football. “Dong had all that,” says Maozhen. “He had a speed, Power, all these things. Ferguson (Sir Alex, former United coach, d. Red.) Said Dong was fantastic, perfect for England. He called him ‘explosive’.”

Dong was only 18 years old when United took him to England for around 700,000 euros from Chinese Club Dalian Shide. He had just completed a handful games in the first Chinese league, an A country was not yet in his Vita. That’s why he first only stayed for a few weeks as he did not get a work permit as a non-national player in England.

Fangzhuo Dong: Second Belgian League instead of Old Trafford

United parked the winter center at the former farm team Royal Antwerp. Relegation fight in Belgium was then Dongs everyday life, in the follow-up season he then found himself again in the second Belgian league. In the summer of 2005, he returned shortly to Manchester, on United’s preparation tour through Asia three missions and even scored a goal. But critics looked only a confirmation of their opinion that Dong was only under marketing purposes in one of the best clubs in the world.

But after all, in the fall of 2004, he had led Chinese selection at the junior Asia championships to the final, made in the 2005/06 season, with 21, then at Antwerp so really attentive to himself. 18 goals reach the Chinese in the Second Belgian League, he delighted football. “Dong was a great player,” says Regi van Acker, one of his trainers during the time at Antwerp. “Very strong, relatively large, extremely fast. And when he shot on the goal, that was like a bomb – so powerful. The defenders feared him.”

Extremely diligently dong had been, he constantly pushed extras. And United had always in mind, did not forgot him. “Sir Alex Ferguson regularly looked past Antwerp. Everything went well,” says Van Acker.

After in the round of the season 2006/07 nine goals in 14 missions for Antwerp followed, since in October 2005 in a friendly match against Germany had given his debut for China’s a national team, Dong eventually received his work permit for England at the beginning of 2007. So he returned to United, stood three times in the Champions League squad, for example in the semi-final first leg against the Great AC Milan.

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Fangzhuo Dong: Mayfly against Chelsea

But he only made a game. In May 2007, that was, as United as an English champion, Dong was allowed to ran from the beginning of Chelsea at the 0-0 against Chelsea. It was followed by two other missions in the 2007/08 season, mostly he had to operate at the reserve. The time of the 23-year-old, who had stood in 2004 next to the name of Cristiano Ronaldo or Bastian Schweinsteiger on the shortlist for the election to the FIFPro Young Player of the Year, in Manchester gradually ended.

Surely the above all had a sporting reasons. But Dong’s personality also makes it difficult for him to actually take a top club foot. “The biggest problem was that he was so reserved,” Uniteds Ex-U18 coach said McGuinness. And Regi Van Acker tells: “Once he came back from the national team and brought me a jersey and a few other things as a gift. But even there was so extremely difficult to communicate with him. Nobody knew what was going on in it ‘It was hard to help him. We only had European coaches. ”

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And Su Maozhen, the Chinese top talent in front of Dong, emphasizes: “The language was a problem, but at that time, I undertook great efforts to at least be a few things. After all that I heard, Dong has not even tried that. “

After Dong participated in the summer of 2008 with China at the Olympic Tournament in Beijing and in the group match against New Zealand had always achieved a goal, United let him move back to Dalian Shide. Even there he did not find the track again, barely played – and then once again tried it in Europe.

Fangzhuo Dong: Poland, Portugal, Armenia, China, career end

But neither at Legia Warsaw in Poland, nor at Portimonense in Portugal or Mika Aschtarak in Armenia, he left more traces than a few bets. “He had the wrong attitude,” SU Maozhen tries to explain. “He thought that after Manchester United everything would become very easy and that he is the best in China anyway.”

2012/13 Dong has seven goals for the Chinese second division Hunan Billows, since the end of his commitment at Hebei China Fortune in January 2015, he has not completed a game more than a pro. With 30, the career of the former hope of a whole country was already over.

“There was always allegations that he crashed too much into the nightlife and no longer focused on football,” says Tom Byer, a former professional who has been working for the Chinese Football Association for several years. “One thing that told him really bad was, but that he colored his hair blond. That’s actually a no-go in Asia.”

Shortly after the end of Dong’s last professional station, he also appeared in a Chinese reality TV show in which the participants fighting with weight problems make surgery surgery. Another low point.

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“At this boy, as much pressure was loaded. The Chinese football needed a boost. The Super League was founded around Dong’s change to United, he should be the start of a golden future. How should a boy like to handle it?”, Throws Tom Byer. And Christopher Atkins, as a player counselor active in China, emphasizes: “A really sad story of a very talented player. One of his former teammates at Antwerp told me that he was the best player who ever sent Manchester United to Antwerp.”