Football: Tang and Shen become first Chinese women to join British clubs

China's Tang Jiali will move to Tottenham Hotspur.
China's Tang Jiali will move to Tottenham Hotspur.PHOTO: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR WOMEN/TWITTER

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Tang Jiali and Shen Mengyu have become the first Chinese women's internationals to sign for professional clubs in the United Kingdom after their respective moves to Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic were announced on Wednesday (July 21).

The pair made the switches after being left out of the China squad that travelled to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, where the Jia Xiuquan-coached side slipped to a 5-0 loss to Brazil in their opening match on Wednesday.

"I am so happy to be joining Tottenham Hotspur," Tang told the club's official website.

"I am a big fan of Premier League football and I've always dreamt of playing in England. I can't wait to arrive in London, and I hope I can help make it a successful season for the team."

Tang made her debut for China in December 2014 and featured at the 2015 Women's World Cup, where she was shortlisted for the tournament's Best Young Player award.

Shen, meanwhile, becomes the first Chinese woman to sign for a Scottish club with her move to Celtic.

The 19-year-old has represented her country at both youth and senior level and, like Tang, was a member of the squad that defeated South Korea in April to qualify for the Olympics, only to miss out on selection for Tokyo.

Both players have moved to the United Kingdom after helping Shanghai Shengli to a third-placed finish in last season's Chinese Women's Super League.

Shanghai coach Shui Qingxia was disappointed to lose the pair but believes the moves will help both improve.

"I have been coaching these two players for more than 10 years. It is just like a mother worries for her sons: Emotionally I am reluctant to let them go," she said, according to the Eastern Sports Daily.

"But this is a good opportunity for their personal growth and career development. I hope they can take care of themselves, and adapt to new environment and new teams, and show the elegant demeanour of Chinese female players abroad."