Paulinho endears himself to Chinese football with anthem sing-along

Shanghai (AFP) –


Paulinho has become the toast of Chinese football after the Brazilian fondly known as "Violent Bird" attempted to sing along in Mandarin to the national anthem before a game.

The international midfielder was seen singing some of "March of the Volunteers" before Guangzhou Evergrande's 3-2 win at Wuhan Zall in the Chinese Super League (CSL).

The 30-year-old, who was captaining Fabio Cannavaro's side, scored what turned out to be the winner on Friday to keep Evergrande in the title race with a third of the season gone.

Television viewers and media were quick to praise the man affectionately dubbed "Violent Bird" because of his all-action style.

Calling it an "unexpected move", Soccer News said: "The Brazilian followed the majestic melody.

"It is not the first time he seriously sang the national anthem. In 2017, Paulinho had already begun to seriously participate.

"But at that time he could only sing one sentence, 'March on! March on! On!'"

Many people on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, were gushing in their praise of Paulinho, who rejoined Evergrande last summer after one year at Barcelona.

Paulinho, who has spent three years in the CSL across two stints with Evergrande, was "the cutest violent bird", said one on Weibo.

"He's one of us," added another, while one more observer wrote: "Violent Bird has received the baptism of socialism."

China's national anthem is played before all CSL matches in a solemn show of respect, but it is highly unusual for foreign players to join in singing it.

They are however expected to stand to attention and last season Paulinho's fellow Brazilian Diego Tardelli was banned for one match for rubbing his face during the anthem.

The Chinese Football Association said that the actions of Tardelli, who was with Shandong Luneng at the time, "were not solemn" and he "caused adverse social impact".

China's communist rulers routinely punish people who disrespect the anthem and the flag.