Sun Jihai - a household soccer name or a political gesture?

Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) are introduced to former Manchester City player Sun Jihai (2nd right) by Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (left) during a visit to the City Football Academy in Manchester.

Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) are introduced to former Manchester City player Sun Jihai (2nd right) by Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (left) during a visit to the City Football Academy in Manchester.

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Not many people, it has to be said, revere his name.

Yet today, it was announced that Sun Jihai, the former Sheffield United and Manchester City defender, has been ranked alongside world greatest after being inducted into football hall of fame.

Barnsley's Martin Devaney and Jihai Sun battle for the ball on 8th November 2008

Barnsley's Martin Devaney and Jihai Sun battle for the ball on 8th November 2008

Sun who?

Strangely enough, the accolade coincided with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping who was in Manchester today as part of his official state visit.

In fairness, the right back back made 130 appearances in a six-year stay with City, during which he became the first Chinese player to score in the Premier League.

Today's achievement, though, was to recognise him as one "of the all-time top talents to grace the game in England".

Really?

Does he really deserved to be talked about in the same breath as 1966 World Cup winners Bobby Moore and Sir Bobby Charlton and managers, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Alf Ramsey, Bill Shankly and Brian Clough?

Does 80 Chinese caps entitle him to walk talk alongside other inductees like Eric Cantona, George Best and Gary Lineker?

Sun becomes just the seventh foreign player on the list after Ossie Ardiles, Dennis Bergkamp, Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Gianfranco Zola and Peter Schmeichel.

The 38-year-old played 12 times for Sheffield United between 2008–2010.

Sun only managed 19 minutes in his first match for the Blades, getting sent off after picking up two yellows in a friendly.

Sun was then released from his contract in July 2009 with United claiming he had failed to adapt to life in South Yorkshire.

Shadow sport minister Clive Efford said the award was a clear indication that Prime Minister David Cameron's office had leant on the National Football Museum.

"I don’t think [Sun's] record justifies his selection for the hall of fame" said Efford. "I think it’s a grubby little fix and I think this sort of thing has gone on around football for far too long, where money has dictated what’s happened and not what goes on on the football field."

A National Football Museum spokesman said the award was in recognition of Sun’s "ambassadorial role in enhancing the profile and popularity of English football to a Chinese audience and to coincide with the state visit to the UK by President Xi Jinping".