China star back in Blackpool 55 years on

A former Blackpool FC player who became the first Chinese man to appear in the top flight of English football returned to the resort after 55 long years.

Tuesday, 30th August 2016, 8:00 pm
Former Blackpool FC player Cheung Chi Doy, front centre, reunites with his former team mates, from left, Graham Oates, Tommy Thompson, Barrie Martin, Jimmy Armfield and Glyn James.

Cheung Chi Doy, 75, reunited with former team-mates Jimmy Armfield, Glyn James, Tommy Thompson, Graham Oates and Barrie Martin at Bloomfield Road.

He was the guest of honour at the Blackpool FC v Plymouth Argyle match.

Chi Doy became the first Chinese player to move to England and play in the top flight after swapping Tung Wah for Blackpool in 1960.

Former player Cheung Chi Doy reunites with his former Blackpool team mates. Below, inset, pictured during his playing days.

He featured in two first-team fixtures against Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday, in which he scored his one and only goal for the club.

In 1962 he returned to his homeland of Hong Kong to play for the Yuen Long football team, and went on to travel the world, playing for teams in Vancouver in Canada and St Louis in America before retiring to Lantau Island with his wife Jojo in 1978.

He is thought to still be the first and only Hong Kong-born football player to have ever played for a European club.

He said: “Of course I’m delighted to come here again after 55 years and see some of my old friends like Jimmy Armfield and all the players. I’m really looking forward to looking around Blackpool. From 1960 compared to now, it’s completely different.

Former Blackpool FC player Cheung Chi Doy in his footballing days. Picture by Blackpool FC

“It’s even more beautiful than before and very crowded. When I lived here in the 1960s, even when it was sunny there were very few people out past 7pm.”

Chi Doy was inspired to join Blackpool FC after they continued their 100 per cent win record from their 12-game 1958 Australian tour in his home country, where they secured two victories against Hong Kong teams.

He returned to the club where he found British fame as part of a documentary of his life: ‘Finding Cheung Chi Doy’ by independent filmmaker Chan Fun Man.

Chi Doy said: “Blackpool FC came to Hong Kong twice and I met the club and made friends with some English reporters who introduced me to the manager.

Former player Cheung Chi Doy reunites with his former Blackpool team mates. Below, inset, pictured during his playing days.

“I wanted to come here to improve my football. English football is the best in the world and has a lot of very good players.

“I was really looking forward to going to the match.”

Former Blackpool FC player Cheung Chi Doy in his footballing days. Picture by Blackpool FC