Chinese men’s national team goalkeeper Yan Junling yearns to follow in his friend Wu Lei’s footsteps and play in the top European football leagues.
The Shanghai SIPG goalkeeper said Wu, who plays with La Liga’s Espanol, was the inspiration for him to try and look for a move to Europe.
“We grew up together playing football and are very good friends. We had always played in the same teams until he went to Espanol,” Yan said. “But now he plays at La Liga, he is now stepping ahead of me.”
“I also want to play in the major European leagues, I need to wait for the chances to come,” he said.
“But if I don’t get the chances to play while in Europe, I would stay in China,” said the 29-year-old goalkeeper.
He also noted that the quality of foreign players in the Chinese Super League has helped enhance the competence of the local Chinese players.
“In the training sessions of Shanghai SIPG, I was often surprised at the performance of my foreign teammates such as Hulk and Oscar. Their creativity was amazing,” he said.
“They helped us grow up. After getting used to them, and when I went back to the national team to face the Asian rivals, I felt confident and comfortable. As I knew those Asian players, however strong they were, they were no stronger than Hulk and Oscar,” he said.