Dong Fangzhou is Man Utd cult hero who has had plastic surgery to hide from fans

When Manchester United signed Dong Fangzhuo in 2004, fans expected Sir Alex Ferguson to have pulled off another incredible transfer coup.

The striker arrived for a meagre £500,000 from Chinese outfit Dalian Shide with a big reputation to fill.

Fangzhuo failed to gain a work permit initially and was loaned out to Belgian side Royal Antwerp, where he impressed up top.

But after making just a handful of appearances for the Red Devils in four years, Dong returned to China after a truly dismal spell at Old Trafford.

The 6ft attacker followed his United stint with failed attempts to bounce back in China, Poland and Portugal.

Many believed he was only signed by Ferguson as a marketing ploy to expand United's brand in the Middle East.

But since calling time on his career back in 2015, Fangzhuo has faded in obscurity after failing to stay fit.

The 36-year-old has been subjected to cruel mockery in recent years for his failings in football, so much so that he has gone to extreme lengths to avoid his critics' jibs.

In 2016, Spanish site Marca reported that Dong appeared on a Chinese television show in which he underwent facial surgery in a bid to stop fans recognising him.

The forward reportedly underwent a ‘skin peel treatment’ to rejuvenate his face.

It is unclear what exactly Dong is up to these days as he bids to forget his unfortunate football career.

However, in 2019 he was interviewed by AFP about coaching children with special needs.

Also speaking in 2019, former United midfielder Darren Fletcher admitted things could have been different for the Chinese star.

The Scot said: “Listen, it was difficult for Dong. You’re talking about a stage and a time at Manchester United where the competition for places was crazy.

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  • “But there was something there with Dong. He was aggressive, he was quick, he had a great shot. He had attributes. But he was still learning the game and things like that.

    “Confidence is a massive part of it for any young player, especially when you struggle with the language and the cultural changes.

    “It’s difficult to say someone wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t like he was miles off it at Manchester United.

    “I didn’t see any reason why he wouldn’t have been a success elsewhere. But I think he went back to Asia and we never really saw or heard of him again.”

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