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Middle-aged Shanghai Shenhua chairman to play against Manchester United?

Shanghai Shenhua’s eccentric owner Zhu Jun is set to heap embarrassment and ridicule on his side again by appearing for his club on the pitch in tomorrow night’s friendly with Manchester United at Shanghai Stadium.

According to a report in the Oriental Sports Daily, the overweight 45-year-old will line-up upfront alongside Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka to form a somewhat unconventional strike force to face a Red Devils defence featuring  former England centre-half Rio Ferdinand.

Zhu is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with the world’s greatest players on the pitch – he famously appeared for Shenhua against Liverpool in a friendly match in Holland in 2007, and also lined-up alongside Anelka during a pre-season practise match earlier this season.

The Oriental Sports Daily reports that the Shenhua fans are largely supportive of their self-indulgent chairman, stating “As regards Zhu Jun’s desire to play, the fan’s mood is very supportive because he has brought the biggest name every to play in the Chinese Super League, Didier Drogba.

“Currently Shanghai Shenhua fans are feverishly discussing for how many minutes Zhu Jun will appear on the pitch.”

This above statement is simply not true  – a quick scan of Shenhua fans on weibo reveals a range of views including some which are openly hostile to the prospect of Zhu Jun stepping into the turf.

Meanwhile Sina Sports also carries a report, saying Shenhua manager Sergio Batista which did not rule out the possibility of Zhu appearing.

“He’s played in games before to let us see his love for football. No matter if he appears on or off the pitch, I look forward to him standing shoulder to shoulder with us in battle,” said the Argentinian.

With Chinese football in the world spotlight and craving international credibility, Zhu once again risks turning Chinese football into a laughing-stock.

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.



  1. Arxtor

    24/07/2012 at 20:43

    Ridiculous man !!! He illustrates perfectly the megalomaniac disorder that (new) rich chinese people have.

    • Abc123

      26/07/2012 at 16:55

      HAHAHA!!! Yeah, it’s damn hilarious .
      Hey, I would do the same thing if i own the club and bought Anelka and Drogba to China…LOL,why not.. it would be fun playing with some of the world best football players.

  2. Steve

    25/07/2012 at 07:18

    I’ve said this before, but… please do have some perspective, fellow Shenhua fans. This is a pretty daft, selfish & low-rent thing to do, and might be a bit embarassing.

    It’s nowhere near deserving of hostility or debate in the wider world of football chairmen / owners, however.

    I come from a small town which had a thriving little lower-league club, part of the community, based in an idyllic little town-centre stadium and over 100 years of history. One man and his ego wiped out all of that (and brought upon us far more media ridicule for daft pronouncements than Zhu Jun has managed), and left that football club literally dead, no longer in existence, with the old stadium lying fallow and a great bit white elephant stadium built to one man’s own ego and name, now without tenants. 128 years of history, gone.

    So when you’re looking for chairmen/owners to get critical of, look at Darlington, Portsmouth, Rangers, MK Dons/Wimbledon, Fenerbache right now, Juventus a few years ago… there’s a long list. Treat this irrelevant sideshow for what it is, and no more.

  3. bcheng

    25/07/2012 at 08:10

    I’m all for Zhu Jun lining up! This match is a joke, we all know it’s a joke, why not let him play and completely remove the veneer that this is anything but a joke.

  4. Pasarq

    25/07/2012 at 18:45

    are they showing the game on tv? cctv or ics?

  5. Kellykoconnor

    25/07/2012 at 22:17

    Chinese football is new to me. I’m grateful for the introduction, as I follow Drogba in his new move. THIS is hilarious to me. I can take it good-naturedly when I consider it in context. I’d hope this would be only a sort of stunt for a friendly. I find it equally entertaining to hear Batista’s quoted comment. It will surely serve to be in perspective later as I watch an Olympic match and that of CFC tonight. I only look forward to getting into more Chinese football culture. I’m seeing it as a new chapter in a “How Soccer Rules the World: A Global Perspective” sequel. lol

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