'Iron Man' Paulinho on fire

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, August 21, 2018
Adjust font size:
File photo of Paulinho.

Barcelona fans were delighted when Paulinho left, and at Tottenham Hotspur they called him lazy. But the Brazilian midfielder is on a punishing run of matches in China that has earned him the nickname "Iron Man".

Paulinho re-signed with Guangzhou Evergrande from Barcelona last month after Brazil's World Cup ended and he was immediately pressed into action because, unlike in Europe, the Chinese Super League season was already at the midway point.

Combining games for Barcelona, Brazil and now Guangzhou, the 30-year-old best known in China as "Violent Bird" - a nod to how his name is pronounced in Mandarin and his style of play - has racked up 69 games in the past year, with no offseason.

By comparison, fellow Brazilian international midfielder Renato Augusto at CSL rival Beijing Guo'an has played less than 40 matches over the same period, according to soccer data tracker transfermarkt.com.

Both featured at the World Cup in Russia, but Paulinho played through the winter and spring as Barcelona won the Spanish league and Copa del Rey, while Augusto and the CSL were on a break.

While many players in Europe were able to put their feet up after Russia, Paulinho jetted back to China on loan from Barcelona and made his second Guangzhou debut just 11 days after Brazil was knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium in the quarterfinals.

Little wonder that Paulinho enjoys the kind of adulation in China that he never had at Barcelona or Tottenham, where he had an unremarkable stint in 2013-15.

'Violent Bird can still fly'

After arriving back in China to a hero's welcome at the airport, Paulinho made light of the number of games he has played since last August.

"I am actually in very good physical condition and I believe the coaching staff knows how to use me sensibly," he said.

He has gone on to play every minute of the six games that Fabio Cannavaro's Guangzhou have had over the past month, scoring five times while living up to his "Iron Man" moniker.

Along fellow Brazilian Talisca, another new signing who is on loan from Benfica, they have almost single-handedly helped salvage Guangzhou's season - and kept Cannavaro in his job.

Paulinho again played all 90 minutes last Wednesday as the reigning seven-time CSL champion thrashed Henan Jianye 5-0 away to leave Guangzhou fourth in the standings, six points off leaders Beijing Guo'an but with a game in hand.

After ringing up 100 matches for Guangzhou, one sports commentator wrote online: "Violent Bird - 526 days, 100 matches - shows he can still fly."

Paulinho's grueling schedule is a reflection of the problem that Chinese soccer faces after taking a hiatus during a World Cup year.

The CSL season runs from March to November, bringing it into direct conflict with the summer World Cup.

The CSL took a two-month break for the tournament and now is squeezing in games to make up for lost time - but it doesn't seem to be taking a toll on Paulinho.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter