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Sorry Lionel, Lady Messi's got 'mad love' for Ronaldo

By Shi Futian | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-27 08:12
China's women's team, minus rested star Wang Shuang, plays a friendly match against the Newcastle Jets in Australia on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]

PSG star Wang Shuang admits her nickname doesn't match her idol

She's known as 'Lady Messi', but if Chinese star Wang Shuang had her way she would opt for a different moniker.

"Actually, my idol is Cristiano Ronaldo and if I have the chance, I'll go to watch him play," said the 23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain playmaker, after arriving back home from Europe for a vacation.

"The reason why I like him is because of his passion for the game and his professionalism, which have earned my great respect.

"Everyone knows that he puts great effort into his daily training and follows a strict diet. All these things make him the world's best player. I really want to be just like him, a player who has mad love for the sport."

As China's only representative in top-level European women's soccer, Wang's transfer to PSG this summer thrilled fans back home.

However, despite her fine form for PSG, she admits it took a while to find her feet at her new club.

"It's very different from my experience of playing in South Korea when I was 18 years old, because now I play in one of the best women's soccer leagues in the world," said Wang, who began her career with Wuhan in 2012.

"In the beginning, I wasn't that confident and doubted if I could handle such intense competition in Europe. Luckily, physically and mentally, I've managed to adapt to the new environment.

"I was nervous when I played for PSG for the first time, but when I scored my first goal for the team I was not satisfied.

"I faced the real challenge when I played in the UEFA Champions League.

"When I became the first Chinese to score in the competition, I felt like my whole body was burning. I want to cooperate better with my teammates and help PSG to win more trophies in 2019."

Wang capped her rise to prominence by being named Asia's Women's Player of the Year. However, when she accepted the award last month, she admitted that Team China's runner-up finish behind Japan at August's Asian Games in Indonesia was still eating at her.

"Of course, this has been a year of great results-to secure a move to PSG, to score in the UEFA Champions League and now to win this great award," she said at the AFC awards ceremony in Oman.

"But also, this year we (China) played in the Asian Games and personally I do feel some regret that we were not able to do better."

She's hoping to make amends for that disappointment at next year's Women's World Cup finals in France, where China has been drawn in Group B with two-time champion Germany, 12th-ranked Spain and South Africa.

Wang reckons her familiarity with the host nation will help China's cause.

"I can get used to Paris one year ahead of time. It will be a big help for the campaign. I am confident we can do well at the finals," she said.

China's best performance at a World Cup was in 1999, when it finished runner-up behind host the United States.

Since then, the team has struggled in major competitions, but the emergence of a new generation of stars like Wang bodes well for the future.

Helmed by no-nonsense coach Jia Xiuquan, the squad-minus the rested Wang-is currently being put through its paces at a winter training camp in Australia.

Last weekend, the Steel Roses made it five friendly wins on the bounce Down Under with a 5-0 dismantling of the Newcastle Jets, who play in the country's top-flight W-League.

"Through the friendlies, we achieved our goal of competing with the European players," said the 55-year-old Jia.

"It's important that we show the results of our winter training next year.

"We will also give the young players more match time, including the under-20s. I hope they can develop quickly to improve the overall strength of our squad."

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