Big Dady thriving in China

This Chinese Super League season draws to an end this week and, as expected, imported stars are once again dominating the goalscoring scene, with Guangzhou Evergrande's prolific Brazilian marksman Elkeson leading the way with 22 goals.

The home-grown strikers have, meanwhile, gained their share of recognition as well. Notably, Shanghai SIPG's wunderkind Wu Lei smashed home 15 times to emerge this season's second best goalscorer - the first time a Chinese player has achieved the feat since Shandong Luneng's Han Peng in 2010.

A new name, however, also claimed a fair share of attention. Portugal-born Cape Verde Islands international - Eduardo Fernando Pereira Gomes, or Dady as he is better known - surpassed both the aforementioned duo in term of goalscoring ratio.

The towering Shanghai Shenhua forward has proved to be the most efficient goalscorer this year, despite managing only nine goals in his debut season. Although he produced a mere 34 shots compared to Elkeson's 109, Dady proved to be far more productive, averaging 3.78 shots per goal.

"I am happy to know about this," the former Osasuna man told "I am not among the most prolific marksmen but I am still efficient. In the Chinese league there are plenty of good goalscorers so I can never sit on this feat. I hope to continue my form and score more goals for my club in the remaining two matches."

Stepping into unknown
Dady, who first made his mark with Portuguese club Belenenses, left for pastures new by signing for Shanghai at the start of this season after a decade-long career in Europe. It didn't, however, seem that the 29-year-old arrived in China's largest city at the right time.

Dady, in fact, came in the wake of Shanghai's disappointing campaign the previous season when they unexpectedly finished in ninth place due to a series of below-par performances. Adding to the difficulties, both Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka left after an uneventful season in China, leaving the club's hopes of a comeback in tatters. As a result, Shanghai began the season with even the most optimistic faithful hoping for little more than winning a battle against relegation.

Dady, however, quickly injected confidence into the team with his goals. Despite being given limited chances, the towering player proved his worth by twice scoring important equalisers as Shanghai stole a point at Liaoning Whowin and Qingdao Jonoon respectively. After completing a brace in a 3-3 goal-thriller against Wuhan Zall, he was again on target as they shared spoils with last year's runners-up Jiangsu Sainty and Tianjin Teda.

I knew little about Chinese football before my arrival, and only when I came here did I see the qualities of the club and the league.
Shanghai Shenhua forward Dady

His latest goal came in the spirited 2-1 defeat of Jiangsu, when he levelled with a powerful header, before Xu Liang netted the match-winner with a free-kick. His brilliant performances helped the club move into the top seven and needless to say, they have maintained their place in the top flight with two matches to spare.

"It is a big pleasure that I have scored goals and my club can avoid relegation," he reflected. "To be honest, that was not easy for a player in his debut season. But I worked hard during the acclimatisation and luckily it didn't take me too long to pick up my goalscoring form."

"I knew little about Chinese football before my arrival, and only when I came here did I see the qualities of the club and the league. China have talented players and the clubs have invested big in importing good foreign players. So it is no surprise the level of the league is moving up."

Osasuna spell
Dady broke his duck by equalising against Liaoning in March. Amidst those hailing him from the stands that day was former Spain and China PR coach Jose Camacho, who managed Osasuna during his three-year spell with the Navarrese side.

"It was indeed a memorable period with Osasuna," Dady explained. "It was a time I should remember, because I spent seasons with good players and under a good coach. Camacho is a highly qualified manager, he is a good-natured man as well. He gave me many chances and I repaid the faith with my goals."

Thanks to his showings with Osasuna, Dady was called into the Cape Verde Islands team for their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign, during which he finished the side's top-scorer, although they finished behind group-winners Cameroon in the second round and thus missed a place in the final phase. With Dady ruled out, the Portuguese-speaking nation were again edged out of Brazil 2014 qualifying, this time by Tunisia.

"Cape Verde are a good team, but they had made too many mistakes during the qualifiers which proved too costly. This squad consists of talented players and they all played with their hearts. Still, they proved they are a hopeful team and are more than capable of springing a surprise."

Asked about his international prospects, the unassuming player is keen to seek another chance to serve his country. He said: "(It was a pity) that I could only watch my team play during the campaign, but if given an opportunity, I will be more than happy to return to the national team. My goalscoring form hasn't deserted me yet and I still possess the qualities to score goals at international level."