APPIANO GENTILE - A warm-up with Paolo Orlandoni and Fabian Carini, coordinated by Inter's goalkeeper coach Giulio Nuciari, a series of fine saves from Figo, Adriano, Zanetti & co during shooting practice, and an impressive performance in the eight-a-side practice match that brought today's training session to a close. At Angelo Moratti Sports Centre this morning 17-year-old Chinese goalkeeper Wang Dalei made a promising start to ten days of training with the Nerazzurri, part of a new technical and communications project between Inter and Chinese football to help develop emerging players who are part of the national Under-21 team. Wang will be joined in Milan on Friday by his U-21 colleague Zhang Wenzhao, a promising young left-winger.
Inter became the first western football club to promote the development of Chinese football in 1978 when ex-Inter director Sandro Mazzola replied to an invitation from the Chinese government's National Sports Bureau, sending coach Gianni Invernizzi to provide technical support to Su Yongshen's national team. Inter has maintained strong links with China since then, particularly in recent years with initiatives such as the participation of Inter Campus Qingdao children in friendly matches and summer camps at Inter Campus Italy clubs, the summer friendly match against Shanghai International (now called Xi'an Chanba) in Trento in 2004, and last season's Serie A matches against Livorno and Lazio with the Pirelli logo on Inter's shirts in Chinese characters. More China-related initiatives will follow in the coming months as part of Inter's global brand development project.
The tradition continues with the arrival at Inter of two talented upcoming Chinese players. Wang Dalei, born on 10 January 1989 in Dalian in the northeastern province of Liaoning, is considered a phenomenon by the Chinese media for his quick reflexes, speed at moving off his line and the maturity with which he commands his defence. Wang is 1.87m tall and is still growing, but the 17-year-old regular between the posts at Shanghai United FC has already won recognition in his short playing career. At the U-17 World Championship in Japan in 2004 Wang became the first goalkeeper to receive the tournament's MVP award. In the same year he represented China at the U-19 World Championship and earned himself a trial at French club Lille. In 2005 he was one of the stars at the U-17 World Championship in Peru, and was runner-up in the AFC's Youth Player of the Year award. Called up to the Chinese Olympic team in 2006, Wang was named in Zhu Guanghu's men's national team for a training camp in August.
Zhang Wenzhao, who arrives in Italy on Friday, also hails from the fertile ground of footballing talent that is Liaoning province. A left-sided midfielder born on 28 May 1987 in Anshan, Zhang plays his club football for Shenzhen Kingway. A quick and agile winger, Zhang is known for his crossing and dribbling ability. He is a regular in the Chinese U-21 national team.
Both Wang Dalei and Zhang Wenzhao were protagonists in China's 3-1 victory over South Africa in the Sesol Cup final in January. With ten minutes of normal time remaining Zhang put China in front with a precise shot from 14 yards before setting up his country's third goal with a pin-point cross four minutes later. Wang saved a penalty in stoppage time to conserve China's two-goal lead.