Ex SGS College student turned famous footballer makes nostalgic return to the college

sgs-dec-16We loved this story sent to us from SGS College just prior to Christmas …

Back in 2002 the then SGS Principal Kevin Hamblin, Director of Sport Simon Panes and Head Coach Tony Ricketts made their way with a group of Male Football Academy students to Guangzhou, China as part of the Bristol / China partnership. The trip was organised to create an exchange programme as well as playing in an extremely high quality tournament that was filmed live for Chinese TV and played in front of 20,000 spectators.

Part of the trip was for the College to offer two boys from the Guangzhou FA the opportunity of coming over to England to study and play in the Academy programme for two years, then return to China to continue their player pathway.

During the recruitment process in China, Simon held a coaching session, which led to him selecting Cai Jing Yuan for one of the scholarships. So at the tender age of 16, Jing Yuan, with his team colleague Chang Bing, made the long journey from Guangzhou to Bristol.

After the two years Bing returned to China but Jing Yuan stayed and completed the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport. He worked for the College in the gym and his reputation as a footballer was gathering momentum as Bristol Rovers FC wanted to offer him a contract but could not gain a work permit for him.

Jing Yuan ended up staying in England for nearly six years living with Simon and his family. He continued to train and work hard and managed to gain a job as an interpreter back in China working in both the Asian games and the World University games held in Shenzhen.

Then his break finally came as he gained a job with Guangzhou Sunny cave FC as their interpreter. After a string of injuries the club allowed Jing Yuan to train with them after relentlessly insisting he was good enough to play. The Coach had no choice but to play him and at the age of 28 he made his debut in front of 15,000 spectators and scored in a 1-1 draw.  This story went viral around the whole of China, Jing Yuan’s face was seen everywhere!

From then on he has not looked back, he has now signed for Shenzhen FC playing in the second tier of the Chinese League. He is one year into a three-year contract and was up to recently being coached by Clarence Seedorf until his departure from the club. His coach today is former England Coach, Sven Goran Erickson!

Jing Yuan’s dream was to be a professional footballer but also to pay his parents back for all their time and finance in getting him to England in the first place. He has certainly done this as he was able to pay for his parents and his fiancé to leave China for the very first time in their lives and they recently visited London, Paris and Switzerland as they had never seen snow. The family then went to watch Man United play West Ham at Old Trafford and finally arrived at the WISE Campus so Jing Yuan could show his parents where he studied and lived for all those years.

While in Bristol, Simon took the family to the recent Bristol City game versus Ipswich Town, which they really enjoyed.

Speaking of Jing Yuan’s success, Simon comments: “This is an incredible story which just proves that it is never too late. In all my years in my role I have never come across a student with such dedication, work ethic and respect such as Jing Yuan. You will not meet a nicer lad. To see how much the trip meant to his family and how much they appreciated what the College had done for Jing Yuan is something I will never forget.”

Picture: Cai Jing Yuan (with pink football shirt) Simon Panes to his left along with family.

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