Profile: Wang Shenchao
Team: Shanghai SIPG
When football fans across the globe talk about players who have spent their whole career at one football club, the names of Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard and Francesco Totti ring through their ears.
All three dedicated their lives to Manchester United, Liverpool and AS Roma respectively with longevity equalling success on and off the pitch.
The trio emerged through the youth systems of the clubs they would go onto serve for a generation, starting their careers with uncertainty but ending them with popularity.
Thousands of miles away in the Far East a similar tale has emerged in the Chinese Super League.
Shanghai SIPG do not possess the footballing ability of the historically rich European giants, but they are a club on the rise and one who have emerged from lower league mediocrity to challenging for the CSL title.
And Wang Shenchao has seen it all. Since 2006 the defender has been an integral piece in the Shanghai SIPG jigsaw, playing 259 times for his boyhood side.
Born in 1989, Wang grew up in the outer suburbs of Shanghai and after completing education joined the renowned Genbao Football Academy.
Set up by Xu Genbao, a former Chinese international and football manager, the project aimed to attract and nurture the brightest talents in local football clubs around Shanghai, further expanding its reach to Beijing, Tianjin and Chongqing.
Between 2000 and 2005 Wang spent his time at the facility which housed four football pitches and a state of the art gym.
Then a year later the newly formed Shanghai SIPG’s signed the left back. In just a few months Wang achieved his dream of playing for the first team and became a regular for the club when they won promotion to the second tier of Chinese football.
The majority of the Shanghai SIPG side compromised talent from the academy, with players as young as 14 participating in the first team.
In 2011 Wang’s loyalty and dedication to his local club was rewarded, and he received the captaincy armband after teammate Wang Jiayu transferred to rivals Shanghai Shenxin.
Promotion to the Chinese Super League would soon follow though, with Wang’s leadership on and off the pitch crucial as they clinched the China League One title.
Then after a multi-billion pound investment from terminal operator Shanghai International, Port Group, Shanghai SIPG’s form drastically improved in China’s top tier and in 2015 they agonisingly lost out to Guangzhou Evergrande in the CSL by just two points.
The meteoric rise of Shanghai SIPG attracted attention on a national stage, and three months ago Wang was chosen to start at centre-back in China’s 8-1 thrashing of the Philippines.