Wang Shuang – 4 birthdays to remember

Joy & remorse apart, Chinese star woman footballer lives up to her ‘Iron Girl’ nickname

Wang Shuang – 4 birthdays to remember
Wang Shuang, Pic: WAC2022 (twitter)

PUNE: There is no better way than treating oneself to a memorable birthday. Star player Wang Shuang celebrated her ‘special day’ with what she does best - score.

A double strike to power title-seeking China PR to a 7-0 win over the debutants Islamic Republic of Iran in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 was undoubtedly satisfying to maintain a clean run and a step into the last-8. But, for Wang, who turned 27, it capped only the third time ever that she was playing for the Nation on her birthday.

Her first goes back to the 2016 Four Nations Tournament, an invitational women's football tournament held in China, when the then 21-year-old midfielder was part of the squad that beat Vietnam 8-0 at the Shenzhen City Stadium.

And as if it was luck, Wang, on her very next opportunity to play on her birthday commemorated the day by scoring. Coincidentally, it was the very same Four Nations Tournament in 2018, when she produced an unforgettable first on her 23rd birthday. China had Wang (39’) open their account against Colombia and eventually win 2-0 at the Lotus Stadium, Foshan.

Wang’s double was the second in the row, after doing a similar act (converting a penalty and scoring in normal play) against Chinese Taipei, to swell her tally to 4 in the Championships and 38 overall, but the bigger stat is 12 of those goals have come from the last 7 matches.

Asked if she was reaching the peak of her career, after the brace she struck against Iran at the Mumbai Football Arena, Wang was categoric to say that she still has some years to reach her best.

“Though I have been doing very well, I don’t think I have reached my peak yet. I think I need to improve on daily hard work which needs to reflect in everyday training. In doing so it will help me reach my best in the coming years."

Wang’s career, though stacked with a host of accolades, has also had telling moments off the pitch in the context of birthdays.

The most prominent being her 25th birthday when she was trapped in a lockdown situation in her hometown Wuhan owing to the Covid outbreak.

In what was a complicated situation, which only those in Wuhan could understand, Wang on her birthday, Wang kept aside celebration and instead on her Weibo (microblog) forwarded information about medical supplies to her 250,000 fans.

It was also the period when she had to make-do practice on the rooftop of her home which became viral.

Wang, to all aware, was a child protégé sporting the China U-17 jersey at the age of 12. Five years later, she played the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup before making her Senior National debut in 2013 as a substitute against Canada and later a full debut against Japan in the EAFF Women’s East Asian Cup.

Since then, there has been no turning back for Wang, whose professional life has been the pitch, whether it be a birthday or another day of routine practice or doing National duty. That’s exactly why when as a kid she outdid the boys in scoring and perhaps rightly nicknamed the ‘Iron Girl.’