Nico Yennaris becomes first foreign-born player to be called up by China


Former Arsenal academy graduate Nico Yennaris has made history after being named the first-ever foreign-born player to be called up to the Chinese national side.

The 26-year-old, who was born in Leytonstone, made his Arsenal debut in October 2011 when playing in the League Cup. The midfielder started and played the full 90 minutes in the Gunners’ 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers.

The former Gunner has featured throughout England’s youth system, representing his country of birth at under-17, under-18 and under-19 level. Yennaris is eligible to qualify for Chinese selection having failed to be selected for England’s senior level and his mother’s origin of China.

In February the midfielder joined Chinese Super League side Beijing Sinobo Guoan F.C from Brentford after making 144 league appearances for the Championship side.

The versatile player, who can play anywhere in midfield or as a right-back, was granted Chinese citizenship but could have also played for Cyprus if he picked the country of his father’s birth.

Known as Li Ke in China, the Beijing Sinobo Guoan player has played eight times, scoring twice since making his debut against Beijing Renhe at the end of March.

Yennaris will join Italian World Cup winner Marcello Lippi’s squad in their latest set of friendlies, where they will play the Philippines and Tajikistan.


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