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16-year-old Nigerian-Chinese Player to Debut in China’s Pro Soccer League

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China’s highest-tier professional soccer league, the Chinese Super League (CSL), is slated to resume its 2021 season this Thursday. The roster of Guangzhou City F.C. will include the young, unfamiliar face of Nigerian-Chinese player, Su Yuliang.

Earlier this week, Guangzhou City F.C. added Su to the club’s first-team squad. Born in January 2005 in Nigeria to a Nigerian father and a Chinese mother, Su is the youngest player and the only African-born player on Guangzhou City F.C’s squad.

At just 16 years’ and 173 days’ old this Sunday, when the club plays Shandong Luneng, Su has the opportunity to become the youngest scorer in the history of CSL. The current holder of this title is Huang Bowen, who was 16 years’ and 314 days’ old when recording his first goal in 2004.

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China’s professional soccer clubs, seeking a higher level of competition, have signed numerous foreign players. But Su will not be one of them. He grew up in China, speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, and has a Chinese passport. He is a member of the Chinese National Youth Soccer Team, and will be eligible to represent China in all future international competitions without going through naturalization.

Su began playing soccer in third grade and quickly discovered his talent and passion for the sport. He entered Guangzhou City F.C.’s youth developmental system in 2016 and quickly became one of the club’s most important youth players. In 2017, representing Guangzhou City’s U12 team, he scored a 30-meter shot in an international match against Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol. The highlight went viral, and Su was quickly dubbed as one of China’s youth soccer players with the most potential.

A winger on the field, Su Yuliang has an elite physique that reminds fans of international soccer stars such as France’s Thierry Henry and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. When Su was only 12, he was able to complete a 100-meter dash in under 12 seconds; when he was 15, his height had already topped 6 feet.

Cover image screenshot on Bilibili

Tony Hao
Tony was born and raised in Beijing, but moved to Connecticut at age 15. An English major at Yale, he is interested in the societal issues, sports circles, and literary scenes of contemporary China.