The aim of this pilot study is to explore past and present forms of cooperation between Italy and the city of Tianjin in the football sector. The idea of this pilot study grew out of a more general analysis of the historical relations in football between Italy and China.We realised that Giuseppe Matarazzi was the first professional Italian coach to work in China in 2003. It might be not a coincidence that he was selected to be the manager for Tianjin Teda. The Italian football experience in Tianjin was enriched by the former AS Roma and Italian midfielder Damiano Tommasi who played for Tianjin Teda in 2009 and by the 2006 golden ball winner Fabio Cannavaro who was selected to be the coach of Tianjin Quanjian, the second team of Tianjin, in June 2016.

We performed a content analysis on these three Italian sportsmen during their professional experiences in Tianjin. We used Factiva as tool for our research. We collected all newspaper articles published in Italian referring to Mr. Materazzi in 2003, Damiano Tommasi in 2009 and Fabio Cannavaro from June 2016 to August 2017. We also provided a qualitative analysis selecting the most representative articles based on their contribution focused on match reports, Chinese culture, the transfer market, and comments on the quality of Chinese soccer.

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