BCFC: Who is Bernard Sun?

Bernard Sun made history as Birmingham City’s first Chinese-born player to sign for the club when he penned a two-year contract on September 2. Since being unveiled in a blaze of publicity including full video interview, Sun has barely been heard of since.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

I’m going to make an admission here – I love an unusual foreign signing.

I was the mug with “Lucho” on the back of his shirt when Luciano Figueroa signed for Blues from Rosario Central in 2003. The Argentine went on to play a grand total of three minutes of football in the League before his contract was annulled.

I can remember (and spell) the names of Vasilios Kalogeracos and Marco Randrianantoanina from reserve match reports.

I can even name two Blues players who were full internationals without playing a minute of first team league football at St Andrew’s – Njazi Kuqi and Ingi Højsted.

However, I have to admit the signing of Bernard Sun seems a strange one.

According to the blurb when he was signed, Bernard Sun Yipeng (孙怡朋)  was born in Shanghai but moved to Germany at the age of seven.

Piecing together his history is difficult because there isn’t that much information available, but it’s been reported that Sun played for both Kaiserlautern’s academy and the Chinese National Youth Team.

After a lengthy trawl through various Chinese youth team results I found that Sun played as a second half substitute for a Chinese u19 side which went down 3-1 to a Brazilian youth team in the Weifang Cup in July 2017.

Around the same time, Sun signed for FC Jumilla and was assigned to their reserve team Estudiantes de Murcia who played in the Tercera Division which is the fourth tier of Spanish football.

Jumilla were a Chinese-owned club having been taken over by Shanghai-born Li Xiang and Tang Hui along with Argentinian partner Ruben Iglesias in 2016.

Although they entered into an agreement with fellow Chinese-owned club Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2018, Jumilla went bust in August of this year, meaning all their players (including Sun) became free agents.

During his spell in Spain Sun played 28 times for Estudiantes de Murcia before he was loaned to Segunda Division side Gimnastic de Tarragona in January 2019.

Although he was initially sent to Nastic’ farm team in the Tercera Division, Sun made his Segunda Division debut for Nastic against Elche on 26 May as a 77th minute sub.

While Sun didn’t score, Nastic came back from 3-0 down, scoring three times in five minutes to finish with a 3-3 draw.

However, that wasn’t nearly enough for Nastic who by this time were already mathematically sure of relegation to the third tier.

Sun made one further appearance in the final game of the season against Lugo, coming on in the 78th minute and getting a yellow card.

Since signing for Blues, Sun has only made one appearance in an u23 squad as an unused sub in the 1-0 defeat away to Bristol City on September 9.

It has to be said that there could be many reasons why Sun is not featuring of late such as injury, however I’ve not had a response when I asked the club if he was injured last week so I can’t confirm if that is the case.

I have to admit I’ve never seen Sun play.

From the people who I have spoken to who have seen him on the pitch, there is a consensus of opinion that Sun is somewhat off the pace for the u23s team let alone the first team squad.

The big question I guess is why Blues have signed Sun.

The first reason could be that he is seen as a prospect, like Miguel Fernandez.

This is the one I’d most like to believe but it’s also the one I think is least likely to be true.

Fernandez came to the club having played for UE Cornella last year, and after a bit of a bumpy start has settled down well in the team and has been scoring goals. Undoubtedly still raw, Fernandez does show some promise and I’d like to see his six month contract extended.

The second reason could be that it’s a deal to strengthen our ties with UE Cornella, like Ivan Guzman or Agustin Medina.

While Guzman was immediately loaned to Cornella after signing on a free from Olot, Medina has actually made an appearance in the Championship.

However, as Blues have bolstered their midfield ranks with the free capture of Josh McEachran as well as seeing the emergence of Jude Bellingham into a first team central midfield regular, it’s difficult to see where Medina will fit in.

There could be an element of truth in this reason as I have heard that one of the people responsible for bringing Sun to the club was Andreas Manzano, who was Sporting Director at Cornella.

The third reason could be that it’s seen as a way into the Chinese market.

This is the one I don’t believe at all – simply because it doesn’t work. There was a massive blaze of publicity when Blues signed with Xtep complete with huge adverts at Hong Kong airport yet in all my time in HK I saw only one local with a Blues shirt – and from speaking to him it was clear he didn’t know who the team was.

Had Blues signed a massive Chinese star then there is an outside chance this might have been a thing but I don’t honestly believe some bloke in rural China is going to get excited cos we’ve signed a Chinese kid out of the Spanish second division.

The fourth and final reason could be as simple as Blues are speculating to accumulate.

One of the throwaway lines I saw in the original announcement was that there had been some interest in Sun from the Chinese Super League. As Sun is a Chinese citizen, this could make him an attractive prospect for a CSL side – especially if he’s seen as someone who has trained at a high level in England.

Sun was signed as a free agent and I can’t imagine he’s on a huge wedge at Blues so the risk would be small; a cameo here and there, a YouTube video of his best moments uploaded and maybe some CSL owner will  throw money at him – stranger things have happened in Chinese football.

Whatever the reason Bernard Sun has been signed for, it would be nice if the club mentioned him once in a while – especially after the splash they made when he signed.

Otherwise he might just become another forgotten player who becomes a trivia question or spelling contest answer.

Leave a Reply