The name Dong Fangzhuo will ring a bell with Manchester United fans of a certain age.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed the Chinese striker in January 2004 for an initial fee of £500,000 - rising to £3.5 million, depending on appearances - following the advice of scouts who’d watched him in action for Dalian Shide.
Billed as the ‘Chinese Rooney’ by some, Dong had also caught the eye of both Real Madrid and Inter Milan prior to his dream move to Old Trafford.
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However, comparisons with Wayne Rooney proved to be spectacularly wide of the mark.
United kept Dong on loan at Royal Antwerp for a couple of seasons, where he didn’t perform too badly, before he was added to the Red Devils’ first-team squad in January 2007.
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Chelsea gave Dong a guard of honour in 2007
The China international struggled to force his way into the starting line-up, however, with his sole appearance that season coming in a match against Chelsea in May 2007 when United had already been crowned Premier League champions.
Check out this amusing photo of Chelsea’s players performing a guard of honour for the likes of Dong, Chris Eagles and Kieran Lee.
Ferguson also handed Dong a couple of appearances during the 2007-08 campaign - including in the infamous 2-0 League Cup defeat to Coventry City - but it was patently obvious that he lacked the quality required to play for one of the world’s biggest football clubs.
Dong's career ended with a whimper
Dong was offloaded back to Dalian Shide in 2008 but the experience of playing for United affected his confidence and he was never the same player afterwards.
His once promising career ended, sadly, with a whimper - but Dong’s tragic story doesn’t end there, unfortunately.
The reason Dong underwent facial surgery
The 31-year-old, who is now retired, recently appeared on Chinese television in search of a fresh identity.
According to Marca, Dong recently underwent facial surgery to “half the mockery he faced on a daily basis as a footballing failure”.
And there’s photographic evidence on Twitter to prove this genuinely happened…
You have to admit, surgeons have done a pretty decent job of ridding Dong of his haunted expression.
Let’s hope he now feels happier in himself and can learn to remember the positive aspects of his footballing career, rather than the negative.
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