From the end of last century to the first decade of this century, after the football hotspot passed, the Chinese players gradually disappeared in the European mainstream League matches. But Wu Lei said that he always had the dream of going out. After winning the championship in Hong Kong, he was invited by many overseas clubs, including the Spanish team in Spain. According to Chen Yansheng, chairman of the club, their technical team had visited Wulei for three years, and it was a stack of thick technical analysis reports that impressed Wulei.
In January 2019, Wu Lei, who had just finished the Asian Cup, came to the new club with an unhealed shoulder injury to report. Spanish media and fans began to cast doubtful eyes on the transfer: the Chinese reminded them of two other Asian players introduced in the clubs history, Size Mingxun and Junfu Nakamura, who had been unable to adapt to the teams rhythm after joining the club for only half a year.
Wu Lei himself had similar concerns. He said: I am a player from China, and the level of Chinese football is worse than that of Europe, so when I first came here, I was worried about whether the fans here would accept me or not.
However, after half a season, he has not only gained his foothold in the team with his low profile, humility and diligence, but also won the recognition of local fans. Nowadays, many Spanish fans wear jerseys with Wu Leis name on them, and children often shout Wu Leis name on the training ground.
Im very happy that they like me. Wu Lei said. When I came to the team, the staff and teammates were very helpful to me. They were very enthusiastic and helped me integrate into the environment more quickly. I think its a wise choice to come to Spain.
Its impossible without pressure
Since the introduction of Wulei, the attention of Spanish clubs among domestic fans has soared. According to Chen Yansheng, a Spanish League statistics show that last season, in the 11 top-rated Spanish matches in China, 8 matches were related to Spaniards, which is of course Wu Leis credit. But at the same time, Wu Leis every move has also been placed under the focus of Chinese media and fansobservation.
Wu Lei admits that it is impossible to say that there is no pressure at all, but I can understand the mood of the fans because I am the only one in the five leagues and all eyes are on me. In fact, over the years, I have faced a lot of similar situations from the top one to the top one, and I know how to deal with it. What I have to do is to maintain a learning attitude and cherish the platform at present.
In the hope that people will look at themselves in a more peaceful and rational way, Wu Lei stressed that the love and support of fans has always been the driving force behind his progress: I am very grateful to the fans, they will watch my game at 2 or 3 oclock in the morning at home, which is not easy. There are many children who buy my jersey, which makes me very touched. In the past at home, even if I won the championship of the Chinese Super League and the best shooter, I had not experienced this kind of experience. Seeing so many people pay attention to me, I would like to show good performance.
In fact, Wu Lei gave a satisfactory answer in his first season in La Liga. Less than a week after joining the Spaniard, he made his first appearance as a substitute in the match against Villarreal, and then won the start and scored the first goal step by step, ending the embarrassing record of Chinese players in the five leagues for 11 years, with 16 appearances, 3 goals and 1 assists at the end of the season. Help the Spaniard win the seventh place in the league and enter the Europa League.
Taking stock of last seasons performance, Wu Lei said: Before I came, I had made a lot of difficult preparations, and I didnt even think I could get on the stage so quickly, so on the whole, I exceeded my expectations.
Even now, he still refuses to use the word success to define his way to study abroad. Success, how is success? I hope to play in the five leagues for as long as possible, to ensure a high level of competition time, and to get a stable appearance, which is a success. Now I cant really say that Im in the rhythm of La Liga. He explained: Children here have trained differently from us since childhood. From football school to echelon, they have been accustomed to fast-paced confrontation, so they can play fast rhythm naturally in adulthood. I need time.
Harvest is more than just tactics
It has been more than half a year since he came to Spain. Wu Lei believes that he has benefited a lot from this stay abroad period. He said: I have learned a lot, not only on the training and tactical level, but also to touch the whole cultural atmosphere here and intuitively feel the whole system that supports the operation of a club. I think these are very important. Maybe one day I will retire and become a coach or a club manager. These things will help a lot.
He further pointed out that more Chinese players should be encouraged to go abroad: As long as we have the ability to play, I hope more people can come out and play football, whether in big clubs or small clubs. He cited the example of Japanese and Korean players: They play in Europe with a large base of players. Although some people went to the minor leagues, and many people were eliminated or could not play football here, because they have a huge foundation, so in the five leagues there are more players who have a firm foothold.
On the issue of staying abroad, Wu Lei combined his own experience and put forward pertinent suggestions to later generations: Those who come out must improve and exercise themselves sincerely, rather than with the idea of returning home with gold plating. As long as you are conscientiously involved in the training rhythm and the local cultural atmosphere, you can quickly improve.
The new season is definitely more difficult.
Since the new season, the Spanish team has experienced a lot of personnel changes, not only Bolha and other core players left the team, coach Ruby also left Betis. Wu Lei is not worried about the change of coach will have an impact on himself: My new coach Gayego and I usually have a lot of communication in training, he knows my characteristics very well, and also recognizes me. He has brought a lot of new tactics to the team and Im still trying to understand them.
Looking ahead to his first full La Liga season, Wu Lei said that he did not like to set goals for himself: I know very well that this season must be more difficult than the first season, because when I first arrived, peoples expectations for me were relatively low, many fans just thought that I could get into the big list; later on, they could come on as substitutes. Its a surprise; and then when you get the main players, the fansexpectations are getting higher and higher. But I have to give myself accurate positioning. And in the second year, other teams will know more about my characteristics, so it will be more difficult than the first year.
At present, Spaniards who have successfully entered the Europa League are facing pressure from two fronts. Wu Lei affirms that this will be a brand new challenge: From September to December, when the national team returns, there will be two matches a week in three months, which has never been so intensive before. Fortunately, our squad is thick enough to allow the team to rotate. He believes that the Spaniard has a good chance of entering the Europa League knockout tournament. Under such a dense schedule, Wu Lei kept on playing with the Chinese National Team in the last 40 matches during the short suspension of the tournament. How to balance the national team with the club? He said: It is incumbent on us to play for our national team. As long as the country needs, I will certainly fight for honor for the country. He also said that he was confident of Chinas impact on the 2022 World Cup: Our ultimate goal is, of course, to reach the 2022 World Cup, so qualifying for the top 40 is only a small stage goal. We were only a little short of the last 12 finals, but we learned from this process. I have confidence in 2022. Source: Xinhua News Agency Author: Feng Junwei, Guo Qiuda, Xie Yuzhi Responsible Editor: Xu Zexin_BJS4919
At present, Spaniards who have successfully entered the Europa League are facing pressure from two fronts. Wu Lei affirms that this will be a brand new challenge: From September to December, when the national team returns, there will be two matches a week in three months, which has never been so intensive before. Fortunately, our squad is thick enough to allow the team to rotate. He believes that the Spaniard has a good chance of entering the Europa League knockout tournament.
Under such a dense schedule, Wu Lei kept on playing with the Chinese National Team in the last 40 matches during the short suspension of the tournament. How to balance the national team with the club? He said: It is incumbent on us to play for our national team. As long as the country needs, I will certainly fight for honor for the country.
He also said that he was confident of Chinas impact on the 2022 World Cup: Our ultimate goal is, of course, to reach the 2022 World Cup, so qualifying for the top 40 is only a small stage goal. We were only a little short of the last 12 finals, but we learned from this process. I have confidence in 2022.