Chinese international midfielder, Li Tie, arrived at Goodison with his compatriot Li Weifeng in July 2002 as part of the club’s sponsorship deal with the electronics manufacturer, Keijan. The loan deal initially seemed like a publicity stunt, with David Moyes appearing bemused at the duo’s arrival. Indeed Li Weifeng made just a solitary appearance before returning to China.
But Li Tie would feature prominently through Everton’s 2002/03 campaign and at the season’s end Moyes elected to make the deal permanent. Dubbed the ‘Chinese Beckham’, Li Tie had featured for his country during their first ever World Cup Finals campaign the previous summer. A defensive midfielder, he had spent years at training camps in Brazil prior to embarking on his professional career. He possessed good technique, was an adept passer of the ball over short distances and showed reasonable pace, with a willingness to support attacks. Confounding expectations that he would be a lightweight, at six foot Li Tie could hold his own amidst the physicality of English football, but perhaps lacked some of the grit necessary to emerge as a top class holding midfielder.
After impressing in the early stages of 2002/3, Lie Tie’s form waned towards the end of his debut campaign and he was dropped. Introduced as a substitute against Arsenal on the opening day of the 2003/04 season, he was sent off within 12 minutes for two bookings for two clumsy challenges. Shortly after, he broke his shin while with the Chinese national team, and did not return to full training until October 2004. Thereafter he was beset by continual niggling injuries, that effectively ended his competitive career, although he continued to play for China. On the expiry of his contract in 2006, he joined Sheffield United, who were also trying to break into the Chinese market, but he played just once before being farmed out to Chengdu Blades, United’s Chinese feeder club.