Dong Fangzhou, once dubbed as “Chinese Rooney”, recently underwent facial surgery to avoid being mocked for the failed football career. He was a part of Manchester United during their title winning season in 2006/07, although appearing only once for the Red Devils.
— modernleifeng (@modernleifeng) August 21, 2015
The former striker, who retired before turning 30 after failing to find a new club, appeared on Chinese television in search of a fresh identity. According to a report from Marca, the facial surgery is to “halt the mockery he faced on a daily basis as a footballing failure.”
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Dong in January of 2004 for an initial fee of £500,000 – rising to £3.5 million, depending on appearances – after the advice from scouts who’d watched him in action for the Chinese Super League club Dalian Shide. He became the first East Asian player to ever sign for United, but couldn’t play for the club in the beginning after failing to receive a work permit.
He was then loaned out to Belgian side Royal Antwerp for two years, where he performed spectacularly and scored 34 goals in 71 games. He was added to the United squad in January 2007 but failed to get minutes, with his lone game in the Premier League coming in against Chelsea in May after the club already clinched the title. He made two more appearances in the following season, once in the League Cup and in the Champions League, before mutually terminating contract. After spells in Poland, Portugal, Armenia, and his homeland of China, Dong retired in 2014 at the age of 29.