Sports News

Soccer: Zhang says his youth will bring new ideas, new energy to Inter

GENEVA (Reuters) - Inter Milan president Steven Zhang believes his youth will help bring new energy and new ideas to his club and help them understand how people of his generation watch football.

Chinese businessman Zhang, 27, was appointed as president last October, promising to lead Inter, who have not won a major trophy since 2011, into a new era.

The son of Zhang Jindong, chairman of China’s electronics retailer Suning Holdings Group which bought a majority stake in the club in 2016, he had been a club director for the previous two years.

Zhang said he appreciated that supporters of his age watched football differently to those of older generations.

“They don’t watch the game for just 90 minutes any more, they actually watch video clips, Instagrams, Youtube clubs, social media,” he told reporters after being elected onto the European Club Association (ECA) board.

“So, in a way, I can bring new ideas... for European football and a more global view and more technology-oriented.”

“The age doesn’t really bother me,” he added. “If you look at people working in the U.S. and China, a lot around my age are already leading companies and projects. Such age should be an advantage in giving a new energy, new ideas, positive outlook and telling people what the new generations really want.”

Zhang also appealed to the club’s fans to give time to new coach Antonio Conte.

“We can aim for the best but, at the same time, I hope fans, the public have some patience for our players, our coach and everyone in the club, because a lot of people are new and we need some time,” he said.

“I understand fans want to win the league and the Champions League, but everyone else wants to do that, all the clubs want to do that. A lot of our players are actually very young and it’s important to let them work and, eventually in the next year, I am sure they will deliver the results.”

Three-times European champions Inter have won 18 Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia seven times but have struggled since winning a Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia treble under coach Jose Mourinho in 2010.

Conte is the 13th coach since then and replaced Luciano Spalletti, who was sacked at the end of last season despite leading Inter into the Champions League.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge