China's football academy: World's biggest football school in pictures
While China’s national football team may not have qualified for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, or any tournament before or since 2002, the country's ambition to become the next footballing powerhouse is in no way dampened.
A fascinating new photoset has offered an insight into the Guangzhou Evergrande International Football School in the southern province of Guangdong – a sprawling 167-acre sporting campus where its owner hopes to train a generation of formidable young Chinese athletes.
Property tycoon Xi Jiayin is believed to have spent around £115 million on the institution, which is considered to be the largest football academy in the world, where 2,400 students train across 50 pitches.
Having perhaps identified that the school may need some outside help, a squad of Spanish coaches train the children as part of a deal with Real Madrid.
“[World Cup glory] is our dream. This is what we are working towards,” Fernando Sanchez Cipitria, a former Spain international who is now the technical director of the Evergrande, told the Telegraph.
Independent News Service