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December 12 2019 1.27pm

On this day in 1998: Chinese takeaway

August 14 2015

Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai with Terry Venables

Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai with Terry Venables

Sifting through the annals of Crystal Palace FC, we recall the signings of Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai.

The pair became the first Chinese players to play for an English club when Terry Venables brought them to Selhurst Park in 1998.

China captain Fan joined for 700,000 from Shanghai Shenhua, while his compatriot Sun signed on loan from Dalian Shide.

Venables spotted Fan during England's tour of China in 1996 and then-Palace coach Ted Buxton recommended Sun from his time working with the Chinese national side.

More than 100 million people in China watched Fan's debut on TV and both players adapted to life in London with ease and were a success on the pitch too.

Fan - an all-action midfielder and centre half - impressed with his dedication and commitment over 102 games, scoring six times, and was named 2001 Player of the Year.

Full-back Sun also sparkled for the Eagles in just 25 matches, and after a stint back in the Far East, returned to the UK to play for Manchester City in the Premier League.

Watch their unveiling to the media at Palace's Streete Court training ground...

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