Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cheung was an Asian pioneer in England and Bobby Robson's first ever signing

Before Park Ji-Sung, Hidetoshi Nakata and Lee Young-Pyo played in England, there was Cheung Chi Doy (張子岱)of Hong Kong.  He joined Blackpool in 1960. He was not the first player of Asian origin  to play in England.  The honour went to Frank Soo, a Chinese-English mixed who went on to be capped by England.  Nevertheless, Cheung was a pioneer in the world of Asian football.



Before the 1970's, Hong Kong was a power in Asian football.  Players from there formed two national teams.  The Hong Kong "A" team played as the Republic of China.  They had done well at Asian Cup, etc.  Meanwhile, the younger players played for Hong Kong.  They also finished not far behind from the other countries in Asian Cup.  Cheung Chi Doy came from this interesting system of two national team. 

Cheung made his professional debut as a 14 years old in Hong Kong.  in 1960, a Hong Kong-based British journalist from Hing Kong Standard discovered him and recommend him to Blackpool.  Over there, he joined Jimmy Armfield and Stanley Matthews.  However, his playing time was limited. On January 14th, 1961, he made his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers.  The game, however, was stopped due to bad weather.  Later in the month, he made his full debut against Bolton Wanderers.  On November 25th, 1961, he played his second game in a 1-3 loss to Sheffield Wednesday., scoring the only goal for his club.  Thus, he became the first Chinese to score in the top tier of the English league.  However, due to homesickness, he returned to Hong Kong in 1962.

In 1968, Bobby Robson  got his first job as a manager with Vancouver Royals.  He remembered the talented Cheung Chi Doy.  He signed Cheung Chi Doy and his brother.   They became one of Robson's first ever signings as a manager.  Cheung was the highest-paid player on the team.  However, Robson's position was not secured.  Vancouver Royals was merged with another club.  Ferenc Puskas became the manager while Robson was sent home.  Not being one of Puskas' players, he was not used regularly.  He later joined St Louis Stars.


With Vancouver Royals
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

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