Dream leads Chinese youngster Chiming to Porto
His love for football knows no boundaries. He gave up the comforts of his home and ventured into an unknown world, one with an entirely different culture and language, all because he wanted to make it big in football.
From Chengdu in the province of Sichuan in central China, young Zhang Chiming’s dream has become a reality, for he is now a member of the renowned FC Porto youth squad which is currently taking part in the Champions Youth Cup preliminary round matches in Malacca.
His journey to Portugal began early in the year when FC Porto scouts were in China to look for young players to join their academy.
The 18-year old Chiming who was then playing for Chengdu city caught the scouts' eyes and was invited to Porto for a two-week trial. His call-up caught everyone in China by surprise because he had not represented China at any level in international football.
"That's how I made it to FC Porto. At the end of the trial, they offered me a two-year contract and I hope to make good with them. To play for a professional club in Europe has been my dream," said Chiming.
But there are the difficulties of course at Porto. There is the language barrier. He speaks very little English and obviously no Portuguese. The food can be quite different from the spicy fare of Sichuan cooking and then there is the lifestyle and different culture.
"But that's to be expected. In any case I am in Porto to build my football career," he added.
Chiming, a striker, made it to the starting line-up in coach Patrick Grebeear's selection which lost 0-1 to Manchester United in their opening Group C match at the Hang Jebat stadium on Wednesday evening.
He didn't score but he did enough to impress the coach of his abilities. "Chiming has got so much to learn but he has got the natural ability. Like shielding the ball and laying off a pass to a better placed team mate.
"But he comes from a different football culture and that's where he must learn to adapt. There is no problem with language on the field because like Chiming, I do not speak Portuguese but somehow the language of football is universal.
"Chiming has a long way to go. He needs to work really hard. More so he is still very young in the world of professional football," said the Dutch-born Patrick.