My Everton #117: How Blues Inspired Us From China

Towards the end of the 2022/23 season, Ziling Liang and Samantha Guo enjoyed a shared experience as two of four fans invited to Goodison Park for a special matchday experience, as a thank you for being among the most engaged users of our Chinese social media platforms.

The group filmed content for platforms including Douyin, WeChat and Weibo, visiting various behind-the-scenes areas of the Grand Old Lady, before watching the pre-match warm-up pitchside and even sitting in on Sean Dyche’s post-match press conference.

Below, the pair share their unique journeys in adopting Everton as their team, and how their love of the Blues even gave them career inspiration...

My name is Ziling, an Everton supporter from China and I am very happy to share my story with you.

My first introduction to Everton came from a close friend roughly six or seven years ago. It was obvious that the team had such a strong link with the community, which I think is rarely seen nowadays. There were some great stories, too, like Leighton Baines who had supported this club since childhood and then represented them as a player hundreds of times.

At that time, I was in my last year of high school and I needed to spend six days a week living and studying at school for my university entry exam. Watching Everton games at night back home is such a stress-relieving time and, back then, I always hoped the weekends would come around quicker!

My journey supporting this club also provided a trigger for me to seek more challenges in my life. Before André Gomes suffered his ankle fracture three years ago, I didn’t know how injury affected a player’s career and how much of an amazing job physios do.

I was so impressed with the speed of his recovery - and with a video the Club shared detailing his journey - that I am now halfway through training to be a physiotherapist!

When watching games back in China, the eight-hour time difference can make it difficult. However, there are two matches I want to single out as definitely unforgettable; one is the away win at Anfield in 2021, and the other is the home game against Crystal Palace a year later.

Both were played at midnight our time but it was a pleasure to experience them - I couldn’t fall asleep until the early hours of the early morning after the Palace victory secured our Premier League status.

Earlier this year, I was finally able to watch my first match at Goodison Park – the 1-0 victory over Arsenal in Sean Dyche’s first game as manager.

That was definitely a hard period for the team, and I wasn’t expecting much going into it, but Tarky's header earned us a massive win. I still remember cheering Spirit of the Blues when the game finished and I didn’t want to leave.

That day I also met Seamus Coleman, got his autograph and had a selfie. He is such a nice person who will always be a role model to me, so I would say it was a perfect ‘home debut’.

By Ziling Liang, Evertonian (pictured right above)

It’s hard to pick a certain moment when I realised I was an Evertonian, but I do remember when I first watched a football game.

It was 2017, and we were playing against Arsenal. At that time, I didn't even really know the name of the club wearing blue because most of my friends in China are more interested in teams that play in the Champions League.

It was a tough game, one in which we were actually beaten in the end, but I still remember how hard the defenders were battling and how Jordan Pickford was moving around, saving as many shots as possible.

I was really impressed that those in royal blue never gave up. From that moment, I impulsively wanted to get to know this club, so I started to watch the Premier League, particularly when Everton played, and gradually got my answers; Phil Jagielka, the famous Wayne Rooney, Leighton Baines, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Pickford, who had not long been called up to the England national team.

It's hard to take your eyes away when you start to get familiar with a team, or maybe it’s just the magic of the Toffees. I was finding more and more information from Chinese news platforms and social media platforms, such as Weibo. All of a sudden, I found I was building my knowledge of the Club’s culture too. I learnt about Prince Rupert's Tower, and I was telling my friends that the team I support is a ‘People's Club’. I learnt about Merseyside derbies and was following the changes to the squad that come with the transfer window. And just like all fans, you want to win every game.

However, Everton still seemed like a distant dream for me; as a fan from China I never imagined that I would be able to walk down to Goodison Park someday, but that dream came true earlier this year.

After being accepted as master’s student in the UK, my first game was against Tottenham Hotspur in April, and I was more than thrilled to sit amongst the sea of blue in my first Everton shirt. For the first time, I realised I wasn't alone, and no matter if it was a win or a defeat, we fans were always there.

That was another tough game and we were trailing in the last few minutes, but things changed with Keane’s goal in the 90th minute. 1-1! The stadium erupted, with me in tears.

More importantly, Everton encouraged me to explore more and realise that football is much more than just a single football team that plays on the pitch. Nor is it just about the match results. It’s also about the community, about the efforts of the physiotherapists, doctors, journalists, kit managers and all the staff working together in front of and behind the scenes.

This inspired me, a media studies student, to grow an interest in football and it quietly planted a new dream. I am more than grateful to support a club like that - and I will always be Blue and with the Toffees.

By Samantha Guo, Evertonian (pictured left above)

>>> Click here to browse all My Everton entries now

Everton and technical partner hummel are proud to collaborate to present My Everton, a weekly series of first-hand accounts describing the most-treasured memories of fans, players, and staff both past and present.

Got an entry? We'd love to hear it – and there are exclusive prizes for the best fan submissions, including VIP tickets to Men's Team matches, invitations to watch training at Finch Farm, signed merchandise and discount on Submit via email to