You can’t avoid it. Everywhere you turn it’s there. Even when you’re asleep it’s growing. We are, of course, talking about the Chinese Super League.
From paying England’s brightest talent $1million-a-week to taking away a Premier League cult hero Chinese football is well and truly on the footballing map.
When it comes to foreign footballers playing in the Chinese Super League more Brazilians have made the journey than any other nation.
There are currently 20 Brazilians playing in the top flight of Chinese football. In fact three members of the most recent Brazil side were provided by Chinese clubs (Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Gil).
But who cut the path for the likes of Oscar and Hulk to earn an absolute fortune? Well, funny you ask. Here are the three Brazilians who took part in the first Chinese Super League season in 2004.
The versatile defender had European pedigree before heading to the Chinese Super League, playing for Red Star Belgrade as well as signing (but never playing) for Andalusian arch-rivals Real Betis and Sevilla.
He was originally loaned to Dalian Shide in 2000 before making the move permanent a year later. Adilson stayed at the club four five years, the last of which was their first in the Chinese Super League.
His final stop on a truly global career saw Adilson turn out for K League side FC Seoul, where his performances were so good that he’s now considered one of the best defenders in South Korean history.
Ze Alcino was an early blueprint for what has now become a tried and trusted method of signing players for the Chinese Super League.
He scored a couple of league goals in France with Nancy, playing alongside Tony Cascarino and Youssouf Hadji, before moving to Beijing Renhe in 2002.
He helped Beijing to a third place finish in the league before heading back to Brazil in 2006 to play for five different Brazilian minnows.
The fact that Ozeias ‘Ossi’ Fernando Graziano doesn’t have a Brazilian or English Wikipedia page but does have one in Finnish should tell you all you need to know about his career.
The defender spent three years playing for winners of the inaugural Chinese Super League Shenzhen Jianlibao, who are now managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson.
After his Chinese experience Ossi joined the marvellously named TP-47 in Finland, also playing for PS Kemi, FC Hameelinna and AC Kajaani. Textbook journeyman.
He’s so unheard of that his face, to our knowledge, does not grace the internet. So here’s a picture of Finland’s finest ever footballer instead.