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Dong Fangzhuo, a former Manchester United striker, was there at the Luton Town match but has since been forgotten.

Dong Fangzhuo, a former Man United striker, was present at Old Trafford on Saturday for the Premier League matchup between Luton Town and Manchester United.

In preparation for their Premier League match against Luton Town on Saturday afternoon, Manchester United brought back former striker Dong Fangzhuo to Old Trafford.

The 38-year-old former China international joined United in 2004 after playing for Chinese team Dalian Shide. He was the first-ever East Asian player for the club.

Dong paid a £500,000 signing bonus to the Reds, with that amount potentially increasing to £3.5 million based on how many games he played. Because he did not qualify for a work permit, he was first barred from playing for the first team.

The former striker, who last appeared on the field in 2014, was consequently sent out on loan to Royal Antwerp, where he spent two seasons. In 57 games, he managed 34 goals.

Dong made his competitive debut for United in May 2007 by beginning a 0-0 Premier League draw against Chelsea, despite early difficulties in securing a work permit. Alongside former United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he opened the game in attack.

He played in just two more games for United; the first came in the League Cup, where United unexpectedly lost 2-0 to Coventry City in September of that year. Three months later, he came on as a substitute in a Champions League match against Roma.

After a mutual agreement to end his contract, Dong left the team in August 2008. In 2010, he rejoined his old team, Dalian Shide, and went back to Europe with Legia Warsaw.

Arriving back at Old Trafford on Saturday, United uploaded a photo of him on their X account showing him walking in front of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, confirming his presence before kickoff. “Nice to see you again, Dong,” said United in a post.

“The relationship between me and him [Sir Alex Ferguson] – the relationship between him and all the Manchester United squad – was more like father and son,” Dong said to AFP in retrospect of his time at Old Trafford back in 2019.

“He made arrangements for someone he knew to invite me to celebrate with his acquaintance since he was concerned that I might be alone as everyone might be celebrating with family. Ferguson was a big assistance to me in life in addition to assisting me on the training field.”

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