Seedorf takes over at Chinese club Shenzhen

Beijing (AFP) – Former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf has taken over as coach of low-ranked Chinese football team Shenzhen FC, the club said on Thursday.

The squad, which is based in the southern province of Guangdong and plays in China’s second league, said on its website that the former AC Milan coach would take over immediately.

He becomes the latest foreign manager to try his luck in China’s cash-rich football leagues, after Sven-Goran Eriksson and Luiz Felipe Scolari took over at more prestigious clubs.

Seedorf was hired “because our club’s league performance in the first half of the year has not been what we had aimed for”, Shenzhen FC said.

“We believe that Mr. Seedorf’s rich international experience and advanced ideas about the game can push Shenzhen FC to achieve new milestones,” it added.

The move would “bring more global attention to China and Shenzhen,” it said, without stating the value or duration of Seedorf’s contract.

Former midfielder Seedorf is one of the Netherlands’s most decorated players, winning domestic continental titles while playing for clubs in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Brazil.

His managerial career has been less distinguished, and he was dismissed by Milan in 2014 after just four months in the job.

Seedorf is known for his intelligence and articulacy off the pitch, and reportedly speaks six languages.

Shenzhen FC were relegated to China’s second tier in 2011, before being taken over by a venture capital firm in 2015.

Chinese investors have poured unprecedented amounts of cash into domestic football in recent years after its leagues apparently cleaned-up following damaging corruption scandals.

The ruling Communist party has promoted the game, with the country’s top economic planning body vowing to “realise the goal of being the top class soccer nation” by 2050.

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