Pato wins hearts

Brazil­ian for­ward for Tian­jin soc­cer club rev­els in lo­cal food, cul­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHI FU­TIAN shi­fu­tian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

There’s no short­age of for­eign play­ers in the Chi­nese Su­per League, but few can match per­son­able Brazil­ian for­ward Alexan­dre Pato of Tian­jin Quan­jian in terms of con­nect­ing to his adopted com­mu­nity.

Pato has earned the love and re­spect of fans by lead­ing Quan­jian with 10 goals and for pre­sent­ing him­self to the pub­lic as a ded­i­cated lover of Chi­nese cul­ture.

He caught the at­ten­tion of Chi­nese me­dia again on Wed­nes­day when it was re­vealed that a Weibo video of the Brazil­ian demon­strat­ing how to make lo­cal cui­sine jian­bing, a sort of Chi­nese pan­cake, will be pre­sented at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum “Sum­mer Davos” in Tian­jin on Sept 18.

“I am very proud that the lo­cal gov­ern­ment of Tian­jin in­vited me to shoot a video mak­ing jian­bing,” said Pato.

“Jian­bing is a typ­i­cal lo­cal food, very pop­u­lar in China. I like to know the cul­ture, food and habits of Tian­jin and China and I need to learn more!

“The ob­ject of the video is to help every­body to know more about Tian­jin. It will be shown dur­ing the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum ‘Sum­mer Davos’ in Tian­jin, and I’m very proud! Thank you Tian­jin!”

Pato re­ceived hun­dreds of replies im­me­di­ately af­ter the re­lated in­for­ma­tion was posted. One fan com­mented: “Pato could be a new am­bas­sador to pro­mote Tian­jin-style jian­bing to the world”, while an­other opined that Pato could earn a liv­ing mak­ing Chi­nese pan­cakes af­ter he re­tires from soc­cer.

Since Jan­uary 2017 when Pato was trans­ferred to the Chi­nese club, the 29-year-old has worked hard to in­te­grate him­self into the lo­cal cul­ture.

His Weibo ac­count has more than 600,000 fol­low­ers, and fans have en­cour­aged his con­nec­tions to fe­male celebri­ties such as model Xi Mengyao and ac­tress/singer Dilireba on so­cial me­dia.

Pato has also par­tic­i­pated in pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties like guangchangwu (square danc­ing) and play­ing Chi­nese shut­tle­cock.

Pato earned the name “Pa Jian­guo” from Chi­nese fans on Oct 1 last year when he marked Na­tional Day with a Weibo post that read: “Hello China! You’re my home now and I would like to wish all my Chi­nese fans and all the Chi­nese peo­ple a very happy Na­tional Day!”

“Jian­guo”, lit­er­ally mean­ing “es­tab­lish­ing a na­tion”, is a very com­mon name in China and fans be­stowed it on Pato with the wish he could be a Chi­nese cit­i­zen and even play for the na­tional team, which hasn’t won a World Cup fi­nal spot since its only ap­pear­ance at the 2002 tour­na­ment.

An­other notable ath­lete who has shown tremen­dous pas­sion for Chi­nese cul­ture and cus­toms is for­mer NBA and CBA star Stephon Mar­bury, who cap­tured lo­cal hearts while lead­ing the Beijing Ducks to three cham­pi­onships in six sea­sons.

Off the court, Mar­bury has be­come a house­hold name in China for his love of the peo­ple and cul­ture.

The Brook­lyn na­tive was named by the Beijing gov­ern­ment as its 30th hon­orary cit­i­zen in 2014, and in 2016 he be­came a per­ma­nent Chi­nese res­i­dent when he re­ceived the For­eigner’s Per­ma­nent Res­i­dence Card.

FROM PATO’S WEIBO

Play­ing ta­ble ten­nis, pos­ing with square dancers, mak­ing Chi­nese pan­cakes and tak­ing a selfie with a poster of his idol, Chi­nese ac­tresssinger Dilireba, Brazil­ian Alexan­dre Pato, who plays for Tian­jin Quan­jian in the Chi­nese Su­per League, is fully im­mersed in Chi­nese cul­ture.

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