CHARLTON skipper Matt Holland has underlined Zheng Zhi’s value to the side by ranking him alongside the best he has played with - and against.
The former Republic of Ireland international midfielder, capped 49 times for his country, paid tribute to Zheng after his two goals in the 4-1 victory over Blackpool on Saturday.
He said: “What Zheng brings to Charlton is great energy and goals from the midfield area.
“Because he can play in so many different positions, he brings balance to the side - and of course he gets on the end of things, which is a key asset.
“So I’m not surprised he’s scored so many goals this season. Though ZZ is good getting forward, he never shirks his defensive responsibilities.
“He’s one of the best midfielders I’ve come across and I can understand why he has such a big reputation in his homeland where’s a superstar and China’s answer to David Beckham. His great strength is his all-round game.
“People will look back on the Blackpool game and remember his two goals. What they will not have noticed are the blocks and challenges made in his own penalty area.”
Chris Powell once remarked that Zheng’s knowledge of English was better than he lets on. Holland agreed.
“He’s got a new interpreter and now he’s joining in the dressing-room banter. He’s a quiet lad but we’re seeing more of his sense of humour, though he does keep himself to himself.”
Pardew added: “He was excellent against Blackpool. He’s a very balanced character and a fine ambassador for China and Chinese football.
“I certainly didn’t envisage him scoring so many goals by now.”