Norwegian-born football player has become the first foreign player to ever be naturalized as a Chinese citizen.
John Hou Saeter, 21, was born to a Chinese mother and Norwegian father. In January, he transferred over from Norway’s top professional football league to Beijing Sinobo Guoan of the Chinese Super League. His Chinese name is Hou Yongyong.
Chinese state media report that Hou received his Chinese ID card on Tuesday. Once he receives his Chinese passport, he will become eligible to play on China’s national team, fulfilling one of his mother’s dreams for him while giving up his Norwegian nationality.
China’s national football team, of course, needs all the help that it can get, not having qualified for a World Cup since 2002, and the naturalization of foreign-born players may be one avenue for improvement.
In Beijing, Hou plays alongside another candidate for naturalization in Nico Yennaris (Li Ke), a 25-year-old defensive midfielder who was born in London to Cypriot father and Chinese mother. He played for Arsenal before coming over to China.