Zhao Goes Out
There were heartfelt scenes at The Cooking Pot today, as homegrown midfield general Zhao Jing Wei
announced his retirement at the age of forty, concluding 24 seasons in the Singaporean footballing scene.
Zhao has enjoyed a colourful and unique career, as he spent his first four seasons after the Chicken Wings with Woxingwosu FC, before jumping to perennial frenemies Arrogancae. With Arrogancae, the young Zhao won both major local trophies in turn, before angling for a return to the Pot at 26.
His quality was unmistakeable as he immediately staked a claim to a starting spot, and was honoured as Grilled's Player of the Season shortly after, leading into a second Singapore Cup. By the time Zhao fell back on a reserve role, he had nearly made a sweep of the silverware Singapore had to offer - with only the Sapphire Challenger Cup eluding him - while also having served as the Birds' vice-captain.
Certainly a career to look back proudly and fondly upon, but after not managing a single appearance this year, it was clear to Zhao that his days as an active pro were over.
"Djan offered a short-term renewal of my contract, but I didn't see any point in it." Zhao said. "Football has already given me a lot, and I don't think I can ask for much more."
Nor will Zhao stick around after his departure. "I'm not really a coaching or pundit guy." he added. "One of my other ambitions was to own a restaurant, and in fact, I've been looking into the business for some time. I've identified a few partners and... we'll see how it goes."
The day saw a couple of other transfers, with defender Sohan Mehta receiving the Number Three shirt from newly-established Spanish Division Eight club Damialda F.C., after joining for a nominal S$42000. MKS Pułaskiego Tarnów (Polish Division Seven) were reportedly also involved.
About the same time, Arcadi Sansalvador
moved to ambitious Colombian side ATLETICO BARRANQUILLA from Grilled International, with Patricio Rey banking some S$1.53 million on the 19 year-old playmaker helping them in their quest to return to the fourth division. Dutch Division Six club De Hôrsterknammels were also in the running, according to International sources.