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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shane Smeltz bails out of China transfer in just five days

New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz has taken five days to decide that playing in China was not for him - or should that be his wife?

After New Zealand played in the World Cup, and battling to three draws, the local newspapers were full of stories of how every player, and manager Ricki Herbert, would be a transfer target for "big European clubs".

It seemed unlikely, as by-and-large all three New Zealand results were pretty much a "park the bus" and "defend to the death" approach that was emotionally intense and a feel-good underdog story, but also quite technically deficient.

Eventually, a single transfer was announced. Not to europe, but striker Shane Smeltz who plays for Australian A-League club Gold Coast announced that he would be packing his bags and plying his trade in China for Shandong Luneng.

I was surprised. Smeltz had recently moved out of New Zealand's only professional club the Wellington Phoenix, and an oft-quoted reason had been that his Australian wife and family could not adapt to the cold, windy climate and preferred the home envirnonment of the sunny Gold Coast of Australia.

Now, while New Zealand and the Gold Coast of Australia are climatically a bit different, they are culturally quite similar, and I did wonder how Smeltz and his family would adapt - or whether he was prepared to leave them in Australia as he tried to further his career.

Five days on and we know : a Baidu sports news search was this, which starts out with:
在山东鲁能和新西兰前 锋斯梅尔茨完成签约后,在当地时间7月17日早晨,澳大利亚的《黄金海岸报》惊曝 斯梅尔茨因为不适应在中国的生活,欲取消转会重回老东家黄金海岸。

After completing the signing of the contract between New Zealand striker Smeltz and Shandong Luneng, on the morning of July 17 local time, Australia’s Gold Coast Bulletin suddenly revealed that because Smeltz couldn’t adapt to life in China, he wanted to go back to his old boss Gold Coast.

And later adds this:

The report said that Smeltz’s wife Nikki and two children were not very satisfied with China’s living conditions and had no confidence in their future lives in Jinan. This is the basic reason bringing Smeltz to change his mind.
Source Bezdomny ex patria

What a turnaround in a month. From playing at the World Cup Finals, and scoring a goal against holders Italy - to slinking out of a contract because you don't like the taste of the local noodles !

It's a tough life as a journeyman professional footballer eh?

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