By Jay Crame
The signing of Chinese international defenders Sun Jihai and Fan Zhiyi caused a bit of a stir back in 1998 when Palace unveiled the new additions but the expected influx of players from China failed to materialised.
It looked like many would follow from a country with the largest population of any in the world, but it just did not happen.
Zhiyi and Jihai made the headlines when they left Shanghai to join the then First Division Palace to become the first Chinese footballers to play in England. Fan, who became a real favourite in South London and went on to make over a hundred appearances for the club, left Palace in 2001 for Dundee before returning to China in 2002. Sun struggled to retain a first team place and only made twenty-five appearances before moving to Manchester City in 2002 where he was more successful.
It was not until 2002 that English football saw other players from China follow the lead of Zhiyi and Jihai with the signings of Li Tie and Li Weifeng arriving at Goodison Park. The new additions to the Everton squad were a lot to do with Chinese Telecommunications company Kejian …read more
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