Zheng Zhi is a Chinese player who has been around for a long time, and one of the few Chinese players who have experience of playing in Europe where he spent time first at Celtic and then Charlton Athletic.
He started his football career playing for Liaoning youth team and has come a long way since then, now at the age of 37 he has won his 100th China cap in the away friendly against Thailand last week. Getting 100 caps for your country is a great thing regardless which country you represent and it shows you’ve been one of the best players the country has had for an extended period of time. There aren’t many players around who manage to get 100 caps.
Signed for Charlton Athletic by prize clown Alan Pardew, he went on to play 67 times for the London club before moving north of the border to Celtic. He scored 8 times for Charlton from defensive midfield. At Celtic he only managed to play 16 times scoring 1 goal, but his time playing abroad can no doubt offer invaluable experience to young Chinese players hoping to get a chance to play abroad someday.
After leaving Celtic he moved back to China and joined Chinese Super League powerhouse Guangzhou Evangrande who either win the league, or are always at the top fighting for the league. He has made 172 appearances for the Guangzhou side scoring 15 goals.
As China have qualified for next year’s Asian Cup in the UAE, don’t be surprised to see Zheng Zhi selected in the squad. There is no doubt his caps won’t end at 100, even if he doesn’t get as much playing time for the national team as he used to, the experience he can bring to the side is unlike many other Chinese players so there is no doubt Marcello Lippi will love having a guy like that around the camp to help guide the younger guys. Most managers often love having an older calm head around the place, and Zheng Zhi will still offer that to China for the foreseeable future as there is no doubt he will keep going strong for a few more years yet.