TONY MOWBRAY ended a lengthy pursuit of Zheng Zhi when he signed the Chinese international midfielder on a two-year deal at Celtic on September 5 2009.

The recently-installed Hoops boss, who replaced Gordon Strachan, had tried to sign the 29-year-old playmaker for West Brom the previous season.

Zheng was with Charlton at the time, but the London club were not interested in parting with one of their star performers.

THAT’S MY BHOY…Tony Mowbray signs Zheng Zhi after a year-long pursuit.

However, the experienced 108 times-capped international quit at the end of his contract at the same time Mowbray was leaving the Midlands club to return to Parkhead where he had played for four seasons after being bought by Liam Brady for £1million from Middlesbrough in 1991.

Zheng had cost £2million when he arrived in English football in the summer of 2007, but was snapped up as a free agent by his long-time admirer.

He made his debut in a 2-1 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox on October 4 2009 and went on to make nine starts in his total of 16 appearances for the Hoops.

WELCOME TO GLASGOW…Zheng Zhi takes a sore one from Rangers’ Kyle Lafferty on his Celtic debut.

Zheng didn’t quite hit the expected heights in Scotland and his solitary goal came in the last game of a dreadful campaign, a 2-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle on May 9 2010.

Mowbray had been sacked as Celtic gaffer two months earlier after a 4-0 loss against St Mirren in Paisley.

Zheng returned to his homeland on July 1 to sign for Guangzhou Evergrande. He was named caretaker manager of the club in October 2019 before taking overall charge and was then appointed General Manager in December 2020.

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the adventures of another former Celt in CQN’s EXCLUSIVE series.

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