Tang Jiali and Shen Mengyu have become the first Chinese women’s international players to sign for professional clubs in the UK, after their respective moves to Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic F.C. were announced yesterday.
Both were presented with their new clubs after being left out of the China squad that travelled to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, which lost 5-0 to Brazil in their opening match on Wednesday.
Tang will play in the FA Women’s Super League for Tottenham, while 19-year-old Shen will join Scottish powerhouse Celtic F.C, after both helped Shanghai Shengli to a third-placed finish in last season’s Chinese Women’s Super League.
On Tottenham’s official website, Tang send some words for her new club:
“I am so happy to be joining Tottenham Hotspur.”
“I am a big fan of Premier League football and I’ve always dreamt of playing in England. I can’t wait to arrive in London, and I hope I can help make it a successful season for the team.”
Celtic were the first to reveal their new arrival, with Shen to join the club ahead of their UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification campaign next month. She become the first Chinese woman to sign for a Scottish club.
Yet, it’s surprising to see that despite a 15th world ranking and regular appearances in FIFA Women’s World Cups, top Chinese players have rarely played professionally in Europe, with former Paris Saint-Germain forward Wang Shuang the last to do so before returning to China in 2019.
Lastly, their former coach, Shui Qingxia, was disappointed to lose their golden pair, but believes both moves will help them improve.
“I have been coaching these two players for more than 10 years. It is just like a mother worries for her sons: Emotionally I am reluctant to let them go.”
“But this is a good opportunity for their personal growth and career development. I hope they can take care of themselves, and adapt to new environment and new teams, and show the elegant demeanour of Chinese female players abroad.”