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Dutch legends Edwin van der Sar, Aron Winter and brothers Ronald and Frank de Boer arrived in Beijing to begin Ajax’s search for China’s next footballing superstar

Edwin van der Sar, Ajax Marketing Director, announced to Chinese press today that the club will begin a search for China’s best young footballer. The talent show will be broadcast on Chinese television with the winner getting an internship at the Ajax Academy.

Youngsters will compete in a Beijing based training camp for a ticket to Europe which was confirmed today on the Ajax website. The announcement is another feather in the cap for football in China following several attempts by big clubs to forge ties with the economic powerhouse. Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan and many other sides have been in the news of late for their involvement in China not to mention the much debated involvement of David Beckham as a Chinese Super League Ambassador.

This goes part of the way to solving a little mystery for Beijing football fans as a friendly scheduled for the same day as the Champions League final between AC Milan and Ajax was announced last month for Beijing Guoan’s Workers Stadium, now likely to be part of the PR for this competition.

The Dutch trio arrived in Beijing May on May 1and saw some Beijing sites before meeting press today. Aron Winter, who racked up over 200 appearances in two spells at Ajax, tweeted ‘And what is actually printed on our shirts?’ in bemusement as they toured the capital wearing t-shirts with Chinese he didn’t understand.

The scheme by Ajax may be a wise step for youth football though in China as attention grows on the likes of 21-year-old Shanghai East Asia midfielder Wu Lei, once described as China’s Maradona by Chinese coach Xu Genbao, his performances so far of five goals in seven CSL games giving new hope that Chinese football has a youthful future. Equally, Chen Zhizhao at Corinthians, Zhang Jiaqi at Le Mans and virtually unknown Zhang Chunyi at Spanish side UD Salamanca are encouraging the success of Chinese youth football. Hopefully, the ‘Football Dream’ scheme by Ajax will help fulfill another young person’s ambition to make it abroad.

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