Tsun Dai’s future is uncertain at Bury … but the Hong Kong-born soccer star is sticking it out in England
The 18-year-old heads back to the UK next month for crunch talks with his manager after playing just 10 games in his first professional season, with his club relegated to the fourth tier
Hong Kong exile Dai Wai-tsun still firmly believes his future is in England despite a tough debut season as a professional player.
Just the second footballer from Hong Kong to have played in England – Cheung Chi-doy made two appearances for Blackpool between 1960 and 1962 – the 18-year-old saw his League One club Bury relegated after a disappointing campaign.
“I still have to ponder my future with Bury although I have signed a three-year contract with the club,” said the midfielder, who is back in Hong Kong to settle some personal matters.
“I will get back to England early next month to talk to the manager as I want to know if I am still in his plans for next season.
“All I need is to get more playing opportunities, either with Bury or any other club, but I still consider my future in England or even Europe, but not Hong Kong.”
Known as Tsun Dai in England, he signed his first professional contract last summer and made 10 appearances for Bury this season, including three in cup competitions with his first goal coming against fellow League One side Fleetwood Town in a 3-2 Checkatrade Trophy defeat.
“It was not a bad campaign for me after all, especially with my first professional goal, although I have to compete for my position with four or five other players,” he said.
“In fact, our three managers have used a total of 53 players for the whole campaign. Normally it should be slightly over 30.
“But it won’t affect my long-term plan. I have been here since I was 11 years old and am getting used to the competitive environment. The standard in England is much higher than anywhere else.
“Even a League One match with Bury still attracts many scouts and agents, and there are always opportunities if you can play well, although it may not be in England but other places in Europe.”
Having started out as a defensive midfielder in his youth in Hong Kong, Dai now has an attacking role as a winger.
“The game here is very physical, especially in the lower divisions like League One,” said Dai. “It would not be smart to take on the much bigger and stronger English players, so I use my skills to challenge the defenders and beat them on the flanks to create chances for myself or teammates to score.
“But I need more playing chances to establish myself in the team and that’s what I have to sort out with the manager.”
Despite a modest income, Dai said he is earning enough to make a living playing football, and is living in Manchester where Bury have their own training ground.
“Players in League One can get a few hundred to a few thousand pounds a week, depending on your performance, but for a young player like me, money is not the most important and career always comes first at this stage,” he said.
Last summer, Hong Kong Football Association chairman Mark Sutcliffe expressed interest in recruiting Dai for the national team.
But the Hong Kong-born player has ruled out taking part at the forthcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.
“I have been approached by the Hong Kong side but I don’t think it is likely,” said Dai, who played for Hong Kong at under-15 level.
“It will be the beginning of the season in England when the Asian Games takes place and of course my professional career always comes first at this stage.
“I don’t know if I will still be with Bury next season but for whatever club in England, it would be difficult to release a player at the start of the campaign.
“After all, the Asian Games is not the most important tournament as it is mainly for under-23 players.”