Manchester United greet China's terminally-ill grassroots football coach

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-26 22:06:33|Editor: huaxia

Jing Yongxing (Center) poses for a photo with his youth football club Laiya in 2015.

Jing Yongxing, a terminally ill grassroots football coach from China, received heartfelt messages of support from his beloved club Manchester United on Friday, while he is in critical condition in hospital.

By Xinhua Sportswriters Xiao Shiyao, Zhang Yizhi, Wang Haoyu

BEIJING, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Jing Yongxing, a terminally ill grassroots football coach from China, received heartfelt messages of support from his beloved club Manchester United on Friday, while he is in critical condition in hospital.

When Jing was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer in 2013, he decided to devote the rest of his life to teaching children football. The inspiring story has sparked widespread attention in China recently, especially from footballing circles.

Jing, who has been a loyal supporter of the "Red Devils" for years, said that one of his biggest regrets is that he might have no chance to watch a match at Old Trafford, the home stadium of Manchester United.

"Coach Jing. We are very thankful for your love for Manchester United, and we admire your dedication to grassroots football in China," Manchester United wrote on their Weibo, China's twitter-like social account.

Jing Yongxing takes a photo in hospital on June 25, 2020.

"In our next home match against Bournemouth on July 4, we would like to bring the images of you and your family to the sideline of the stadium, hopefully, you can "have a look" at 'The Theatre of Dreams' in another way."

The Premier League club also prepared a jersey signed by all team members and a letter signed by team manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Jing, which will be delivered from the United Kingdom to Jing's hospital in days.

"We wish that coach Jing will overcome the disease soon. May all lives live up to their enthusiasm and dreams," said Manchester United.


Jing's story of tragedy at a young age and what he has made of it is incredibly amazing and inspiring.

Until he was 29 years of age, Jing regarded himself as the happiest man on earth. That year, his wife Shen Chan, also a fan of Manchester United, gave birth to an adorable girl. His own travel agency business was flourishing. What is more important, he attended a coach training program at Man U football school, a step closer to his dream of becoming a football coach.

But fate decided otherwise. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer at a terminal stage in March 2013.

Jing Yongxing with his wife and daughter in 2013.

He lost over 20 kilos after surgery removed part of his stomach and eight cycles of chemotherapy. Jing was told by doctors that for this disease, the survival rate at one year is 50 percent, and it would take a miracle to survive three years.

But miracles do happen, for the time being at least. In 2014, he began to recuperate his strength.

How would you spend life if you knew you had only three years to live?

Jing's answer was to teach kids to play football. As soon as he felt better, he started to prepare to open a youth football club.

"He loves football so much. He yearned to coach kids, although his body can't do vigorous exercise. He lives every day like it's his last," Shen said.

He secured a pitch in Yanjiao, a satellite city about 30 kilometers away from downtown Beijing, and his football club began operation soon afterward.

Thanks to his passion for and expertise in football coaching, the club began to pick up as more young athletes signed up. He would arrange his players to play various matches in both Beijing and Yanjiao.

Shen was surprised that her husband managed to acquire a professional football coaching certification from the Chinese Football Association (CFA), which Jing believed would help him offer his players higher quality training.


Three years slipped away. Life went on and Jing was full of energy except that he would suffer short term pain after every meal.

His wife Shen found herself pregnant again in the spring of 2017. Jing told his wife it was up to her whether to have the baby since he could not make any commitment considering his health.

She decided to keep the baby, a boy born in March 2018.

The overjoyed dad started to picture in his mind running with his son on the football field.

Having made a name in the youth football, Jing was invited to a Beijing-based youth sports company to take charge of the training at a school for football coaches. He was so occupied with football that sometimes his wife almost forgot the fact that he was sick.

With his life on the right track, he planned a trip for the whole family to Old Trafford for a Manchester United match, which he has dreamed of his whole life.

But cancer would not stay under control forever. His condition deteriorated when cancer cells spread to his intestines in February 2019.

All of his dreams about football came to an abrupt halt. He disbanded his club and referred his players to other coaches, also quitting his job.

Nobody knew about his dire condition until this May when some of his young trainees paid him a visit.

"It takes more courage for him to tell his own story than coaching kids, with a grave illness," Shen said. "All he wanted is to try his best to teach kids football."

Lying on the bed during these last days of his life, he is worried about his two-year-old little boy, who is so little that he might not remember anything of his father when he grows up. Although he says this hurts, his mission as a father will be to leave his son with great memories of his dad.

"I want to leave a dent in the universe so that my boy can have a clear picture of how his father lived his life. And I hope he will be proud of his father," the 36-year-old coach said in a text, after a long pause.


After the story was first reported by Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday, the Chinese men's national football team have voiced their support to him and his family.

The CFA prepared a gift of a football signed by all national team coaches and players for Jing. The ball arrived at his hospital on Thursday, the day of China's Dragon Boat Festival.

"I am really, really moved by your story, which sets a good example for people in football. I would like to invite you and your family to watch the national team match on site when you get better," said Li Tie, Chinese national team head coach in a heartfelt video in support of the coach.

"Your son will be proud of what you have done. I sincerely wish you can restore your health and continue to enjoy the happiness that football brings to us every day," said Li, promising to try his best to make Jing's son a good footballer if the two-year-old boy wants to play in the future.

Chinese international Yu Dabao, who participated in a football training session with Jing in 2018, also sent him supportive messages on social media.

"When we first met in 2018, you only shared with me your experience as a youth coach, with no mention of your health condition. Who would have thought that you had been fighting with the disease for five years by then? As a football coach, you are inspiring and caring. As a father, you are a role model. I believe you can overcome the disease and return to the football pitch you love."

Shen expressed her thanks to the CFA, the coaches and players of the Chinese team. She said her husband had received all the blessings and was very excited.

"Jing Yongxing has always been a lifelong staunch supporter of the Chinese team. He wishes the Chinese national team best luck in the future."