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Vicente: longest-serving Brazilian player in professional Chinese soccer

(People's Daily Online)    15:44, February 08, 2017

Vicente (front) plays in a soccer match for Shanghai Shenhua. (File photo/ThePaper.cn)

Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard Football Club announced on Feb. 6 that the club has extended its contract with Vicente de Paula Neto. The Brazilian player has been playing in China for 13 years.

Vicente, born on Sept. 10, 1979, is the first foreign player to participate in 300 Chinese League games at any level. Vicente began his career in Brazil, and moved to China to join the second-tier football club Wuhan Guanggu in the 2004 season. He made 12 goals that season and helped the team to earn promotion. He continued his successful run with Wuhan the following season, helping to win the Chinese Super League Cup in 2005.

In the years after, Vicente played for Shaanxi Chanba and Shanghai Shenhua. He returned to Wuhan and joined Zall in 2011, helping the team to earn promotion the next year. In 2013, he transferred to another Wuhan team, Hubei Huakaier.

Vicente holds a Chinese flag in a stadium. (Photo/ThePaper.cn)

"I'm most proud that I helped Wuhan teams enter the CSL (Chinese Football Association Super League) twice," said Vicente. He could not handle spicy foods when he first arrived in Wuhan. However, he has fallen in love with spicy flavors during his time there.

Vicente went to play in Xinjiang when Hubei Huakaier was bought by Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard. He appeared in the soccer stadium for the 300th time on Sept. 19, 2015. He is now the longest-playing Brazilian in professional Chinese soccer.

More than 10 years in China have made Vicente an old China hand. He can generally understand Chinese and handle daily life independently. He even learned how to play Mah-jong.

Vicente plays Mah-jong with Chinese friends. (Photo/ThePaper.cn)

The year 2017 may hold the last season of Vicente's career as a soccer player. He has little need to worry about money in the future since his income in China can easily support his real estate business in Brazil. For his next act, he hopes to become a soccer coach in China.

"I cannot be a head coach because of my mild character. My goal is to be an assistant coach in China. Many of my Chinese friends have become coaches, and I want to help them," Vicente explained. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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