Beijing Guoan is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and we’re here to celebrate 20 of the most important moments over the past 20 years. Not all of these are positive, but all of them shaped the history of the club and the league. Shao Jiayi may not be on the pitch tonight, but his return is something that has excited all the fans.
There have been plenty of Chinese Super League players who’ve left their clubs, gone to Europe or Asia, and declared that if/when they come back, they’ll only return to the team they were leaving. When it comes time to actually delivering on that promise, few come through, instead just going to the highest bidder.
Shao Jiayi left Beijing for the German Bundesliga in 2002 and when he did he promised that he would come back to China and retire with Beijing Guoan, the club he’d been with since childhood. The German club 1860 Munich came calling on the basis of the young Shao’s performance for his club, but more so for the national team, helping lead them to the 2002 World Cup.
The next year, Guoan’s own Yang Chen was ready to come back to the Chinese Super League after spending a number of quality years in Germany, but instead of returning to his hometown team, he went to Shenzhen Jianlibao where he had a pair of mediocre seasons, won a title, and drew the ire of Guoan fans every time he stepped into Worker’s Stadium. The hope that Shao would make good on his promise seemed all the more unlikely after that bit of heartbreak.
Shao performend well in Munich, getting his most playing time (and goals) once the club dropped down to the second division. He then moved to Energie Cottbus, where he excelled in his first season for the newly promoted Bundesliga club, though injuries kept him out for much of the next two seasons. In 2009, he was healthy once again, though the club was in the second division, Shao had his best season in Germany, making 25 appearances and scoring 8 goals.
After a number of successful years with Cottbus, Shao moved to Duisberg in Division 2 and played there for a year before deciding it was time to head back to China. True to his word, Shao never considered another side and went straight to Guoan to negotiate a deal that would see him return to Worker’s Stadium.
While he’s yet to get considerable playing time this, he’s by far one of the fans’ favorite players, some who’ve waited 10 years for him to make good on his promise to return to Guoan when his time in Germany came to an end. We salute Shao for his passion and loyalty and his return goes down as one of he 20 most important moments in Guoan’s history.
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