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VIDEO: Former West Ham cult hero hits brace in stunning debut

Diamanti

Alessandro Diamanti stole the show on his competitive debut for Guangzhou Evergrande.

The Italian is best remembered in Premier League circles for his brief time at Upton Park under Gianfranco Zola, whose departure from West Ham United would also signal that of his countryman.

After just a single season in England - plus one game in the 2010-11 campaign - the fickle playmaker would move on to Brescia, later joining Bologna and becoming a regular in Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri side.

Juventus and Inter would each come calling as Diamanti maintained his good form for the Felsinei this season, but ultimately opted for a new challenge halfway around the world earlier this month - Marcello Lippi’s Guangzhou in China.

And after a single friendly appearance last week the former Italy boss chose to throw his compatriot straight in at the deep end - to great effect in the long run.

Diamanti started as Guangzhou met Australia’s Melbourne Victory in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday, a disappointing first half leaving the Chinese outfit 2-0 down.

In the penultimate 45 minutes, however, the 30-year-old would seize proceedings by the scruff of the neck, dictating play and hitting two goals to secure a 4-2 comeback win.

The Italy international received a raucous ovation on his substitution in the 88th minute from the home support, having gone a long way to endear himself to fans in a short time.

Performances like these are exactly the reason Lippi pursued Diamanti for his project abroad, and why plenty surrounding football in the peninsula were vexed to see him leave Serie A.

image: © wonker

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