Premier League leaders Manchester City welcomed Chinese president Xi Jinping and British prime minister David Cameron to their City Football Academy headquarters on Friday as part of the former’s state visit to the UK.
President Xi and Cameron watched City manager Manuel Pellegrini put his squad through their paces ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby as part of a trip that was hosted by City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
Star striker Sergio Aguero featured among the welcoming committee and posted a selfie with the duo to social media.
In a statement on City’s official website, Al Mubarak said: “It is an immense honour for the City Football Academy here in Manchester to be included in the itinerary of President Xi’s state visit. We were delighted to be able to host both president Xi and prime minister David Cameron.
Former China and City player Sun Jihai, now an ambassador for the club, was inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame in Manchester as part of the visit – a move that has attracted widespread ridicule.
Utility man Sun played 130 games for City between 2002 and 2008 without winning a major honour – an incredibly modest record alongside other selected inductees, including World Cup winners Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton.
Sun is the fifth overseas player to be included in the Hall of Fame since its launch in 2002, joining multiple Premier League title-winners Eric Cantona, Dennis Bergkamp, Peter Schmeichel and Thierry Henry.
Al Mubarak added: “It was a wonderful moment for all concerned to see Sun Jihai’s contribution to both Manchester and English football recognised by the National Football Museum.
“Today is testament to the club’s strong existing links with China and to our ambitions for them to deepen and grow.”