When Arsenal tried to sign the greatest player you’ve never heard of

Arsenal’s recent transfer policy may have been somewhat hit and miss, but back in the old days they nearly signed the best player you’ve never heard of.

Rewind to the 1930s, and you’ll find a player who is still widely regarded as China’s best ever footballer.

Hong Kong-born Lee Wai Tong was a sensationally successful striker in China, spending almost his entire career at South China AA, where he helped them become the country’s most successful club.


Tong played for his country at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and impressed the watching world.

Among his admirers were Arsenal and Red Star FC.

Arsenal reportedly tried to sign the Chinese superstar, but were unable to prise him away from his homeland.

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In 1976, a German magazine listed the greatest players in the history of the game, where he was ranked fifth behind Pele, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stefano and Stanley Matthews.

Tong is reported to have scored 1,260 goals in his career. Arsenal could have done with a few of those goals, but even the current manager’s staunchest critics would struggle to blame Arsene Wenger for that.


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