Hong Kong Pegasus’ new shot-stopper returning to his familiar surroundings
Originally retired from his professional playing career in Hong Kong several seasons ago, goalkeeper Zhang Chun-hui returned to mainland China, worked hard and carved out a promising career as a goalkeeper coach.
However, the former Hong Kong International goalkeeper did manage to surprise many this summer by joining Hong Kong Pegasus as a professional, hoping his latest endeavor will allow him to become a better coach down the road.
“After I helped Meixian Techand to secure promotion to China League 1 last season, I received a phone call from Peter (Peter Man, Hong Kong Pegasus Director of Football), informing me that former goalkeeper coach Fan Chun-yip and goalkeeper Yuen Ho-chun would be departing the club in the summer, asking me whether I would be interested to join the team and work with the returning Leung Hing-kit to safeguard the Hong Kong Pegasus net as a tandem,” Zhang recalled.
“At the same time, I plan to utilize this latest stint as a professional player to absorb new knowledges in modern football, hoping to become a better coach when I eventually hang up my gloves for good.”
While Zhang might have firmly set his sights on helping Hong Kong Pegasus to maintain a top-three finish in the premier league this season, as well as to compete for silverware in cup-competitions, the straight-shooting veteran also declares his intentions on helping Hong Kong Pegasus to secure a berth in next year’s regional club-football competition, hoping to further add to his own distinguished playing career.
“I am extremely lucky to be able to witness the change of Hong Kong’s top-flight football in recent years – going from First Division to the Premier League era,” acknowledged the thirty-five year-old Zhang.
“I still remember the good, old days when I was playing for minnows Fukien, before eventually joining powerhouse South China and lifting trophies after trophies, as well as earning a spot in the Hong Kong Representative Team. These are all fabulous memories from my career.”
Judging by the Hong Kong Pegasus training sessions so far this season, it looks like Father Time has not take away any of Zhang’s superb reflexes between the goal-posts. However, having gradually built up a solid reputation as a goalkeeper coach in recent years, Zhang admits he is now more focused on sharing his vast experience with his young teammates.
“It is not only football matters but non-football-related issues as well, I really wish to offer my younger teammates a bit more care, try to understand where they are heading to after training sessions and who they are hanging out with outside the pitch,” Zhang revealed.
“Afterall, Hong Kong is a city that is full of temptations. If you do not try to understand and care about your younger teammates, there is a very good chance that they might get distracted and fall sideways.”
Zhang was involved in an off-the-pitch altercation several seasons ago, thus saw his once-promising career derailed and is likely more qualified than most to speak about the potential pitfalls waiting for aspiring professional footballers.
“Sometimes when I chat with young players, I know some of them are thinking deep down, I have not gone through this path myself, maybe I will end up different than you,” Zhang admitted.
“The kids have the right to think that way but at the same time, they have to fully understand that they are responsible for their own words, actions and decisions.”
“I was guilty of not thinking carefully before making certain decisions, thus ended up seeing my career going sideways and wasting precious time in my professional career. Young players have to understand that no matter in life and professional football, you do not always necessarily get a second chance.”
Now back in the Hong Kong football circuit once again, Zhang hopes to seize the opportunity to become better equipped for his post-playing career as a goalkeeper coach, as well as helping the young players to stay on the right track in the world of professional football.