China’s Zhang Yuning plays first club game in 580 days as he looks to get career back on track with Ado Den Haag in Eredivisie
- Striker hits the post in 13-minute debut cameo for on-loan side in the Netherlands
- Did not play at all last season on loan at Werder Bremen from English club West Bromwich Albion
He’s regarded as one of Chinese football’s greatest hopes but striker Zhang Yuning had not played competitive club football for 19 months before he was told to get off the Ado Den Haag bench on Saturday.
His substitute appearance ended a 580-day wait for club football action and he impressed in his 13 minutes on the pitch against FC Zwolle, hitting the post with one shot in a 3-2 win that leaves Den Haag 10th on the 18-team table.
The cameo marked his debut for the club where he is on loan from English side West Bromwich Albion.
Zhang Yuning, the 21 year-old Chinese striker, made his debut in ADO Den Haag last night. It is his 1st league appearance after 580 days since he played for Vitesse Arnhem. He was introduced into the match with 13 mins left and hit the post in the 90'. ADO Den Haag 3:2 Zwolle. pic.twitter.com/hHaZ4f8CUs
— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) 25 November 2018
The striker last played for Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie 19 months ago.
The 21-year-old is the highest profile Chinese player playing overseas and the only one in a European top division.
However, last season was a write-off for the former Hangzhou Greentown youngster.
On loan at German club Werder Bremen, Zhang did not see any competitive action for the Bundesliga side in a season pockmarked by injuries and international call-ups with China’s under-23s.
— 金士杰 Jin Shijie (@jinshijie0818) 16 August 2018
Even at the end of the campaign, with nothing for the 11th place side to play for, he did not see an appearance from the bench.
He only made the matchday squad twice all season, and both of those came in the final three games.
Those nine months in Germany were spent mostly in the stands but he has still impressed away on national team duty .
He scored three times for China at the Asian Games in August, as the men’s team once again disappointed on the international stage, losing to Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals.
Although he has represented China in recent months, Zhang’s last game in club colours was on April 23, 2017. He played the full 90 minutes for Vitesse against Feyenoord in a 2-0 loss.
That was his 16th league appearance of a season where he also scored once and provided an assist.
The team also won the KNVB Cup, with Zhang on the bench in the final.
— Football 24/7 (@foetball247) 24 November 2018
A summer move to the Chinese-owned English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion followed, where he was immediately loaned out for his career-stalling spell at Werder Bremen.
While no one is sure how his career will develop, getting game time is vital. It appears he may have a chance to get back on track in The Hague this season.
His side’s next game is against domestic giants Ajax in Amsterdam on Sunday.