For six years, Brazilian footballer Elkeson has been chasing goals in China. To play for the national team in the People's Republic, he now also changes his identity.
The Chinese wall is broken. National coach Marcelo Lippi appointed Brazil-born striker Elkeson to the extended squad for the upcoming Maldives World Cup (September 10), marking the first time a player without Chinese descent. For the 30-year-old had to apply for dismissal from the Brazilian citizenship and give himself a new name: Elkeson is now called Ai Kesen.
One of the stars of the Chinese league
"I want to tell the world, I've officially started a new journey, I'm Chinese, I want to give back all the love and affection you've given me over the years," said Kesen, whose new name is Lippi's 35-player list. a training camp in the coming days.
The move comes as a surprise, after all, China has invested large sums in junior football for several years to improve the level of domestic players – and make the national team more competitive in the world. Obviously, given the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, the development is not fast enough. Whether the nomination of Elkeson (or Ai Kesen) remains an isolated case or represents a strategy change is unclear.
Elkeson has played in the Middle Kingdom since 2013 and won three consecutive championships with Guangzhou Evergrande and twice the Asian Champions League (2013, 2015), then again Super League 2018 with Shanghai SIPG. He has returned to Guangzhou with 14 goals of his current top position in his club.