Shanghai Shenhua have this week completed the signing of 19-year-old Hong Kong youth international Brian Fok, with the move coming as Shenhua owners Greenland Group attempted some last minute deals to ready their depleted squad for the new Chinese Super League season.
Speaking exclusively to Wild East Football, Fok (number 4 in main picture) spoke of his gratitude to Shanghai Shenhua after completing a successful trial at the club and is aiming high ahead of his move.
“It means the world to me. I got a shot to make a dream come true after a long while and I took it,” said the youngster, originally born in the Nigerian city of Kaduna.
“I’m thankful that Shanghai Shenhua has given me the platform to show my ability and hopefully I can repay them with my performances this season and the coming years. I’m hoping to make as many appearances as I can and go on to be a top CSL defender.”
Fok signed a three year deal with the club and completes a long journey involving tutelage from former Premier League and Jamaica international Jamie Lawrence, who opened a school in the London borough of Tooting to train young prospects on the back of writing his book ‘From Prison to Premiership’.
Fok credits Lawrence as a big part of his development on the way to his Shenhua contract as the ex-pro ‘pushed him to the limits’.
“I started out playing football for fun until I got promoted to the first team at HK Rangers and got a call up to the national team,” he explained.
“I then tried to pursue a career in England and after a year at an academy I met Jamie Lawrence who trained me for two months and pushed me to the limits. I went on to meet my agent who offered me an opportunity in China.”
A Hong Kong Under-20 international, Fok joins Korean Cho Byung-Kuk, Brazilian Paulo Andre and, most likely, Colombian striker Luis Carlos Ruiz in joining Shenhua this transfer window. The side have also retained Gio Moreno and Firas Al-Khatib for the 2014 campaign.
Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football. He can be found on Twitter and Weibo at @peteydavis
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015