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A special report on Dong Fangzuo
BY 2004-02-13 11:21:49

A fairy tale story turned 19-year-old footballer Dong Fangzhuo from a teenage striker into an overnight sensation on January 14 when his transfer contract with Manchester United was settled.

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Dong Fangzuo(right) was considered as the best successor of veteran Hao Haidong in Dalian Shide Club

His transfer from Dalian Shide to Manchester United is worth some 3.5 million pounds (US$6.48 million), making Dong Asia's highest-priced footballer.

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Dong in Manchester United's suit

"I was rather numb when I learned the contract was made after an anxious wait of four months,?Dong admitted.

Dong impressed Manchester United's head coach Sir Alex Ferguson with his remarkable physical condition and football skills during a trial visit to the club last September.

The record-breaking transfer could change the youngster's life. Dong had been a nameless reserve player of Dalian Shide until last year when he grabbed his chance to demonstrate his ability.

His talent was first spotted by Dalian Shide's coach Xu Hong, and highly rated by Hao Haidong, arguably China's best striker who regards Dong as his successor.

"He is a rare young gifted football player with great physical condition. He is so skillful that even I cannot match it,?Hao said.

Ferguson meanwhile described Dong as a "player of the future?and hopes he can feature in the elite of Manchester United in two to three years.

Dong is keeping a low profile and remains concerned about practical matters:

"Compared with other young players here, I am not so special. For me the language is the biggest difficulty."

"I do not care where I am to be placed at first. I believe I can become one of their main forces."

Dong started his new career with Manchester United on January 31. He is currently on loan to Belgium's Antwerp for three years.

"We hope he will grow up quickly in Europe. It will be good for his career,?said Lin Lefeng, Dalian Shide general manager.

(Editor:) (From:China Daily)
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