Five years ago, the idea that Tyias Browning might have a World Cup dream for 2022 would not be such a ludicrous statement. He had just made his Everton senior debut with an impressive outing in a Merseyside derby and had represented England at under-21 level.
Now, that World Cup dream continues, but with an entirely different nation.
Browning is now looking to potentially play for China as they look to qualify for the tournament in Qatar
As detailed in The Guardian this weekend, Browning is now a naturalised Chinese citizen after joining Guangzhou Evergrande in January.
Browning, whose Chinese name is Jiang Guangthai, could follow former Brentford midfielder Nico Yennaris and Brazilian forward Elkeson in playing for Team Dragon in the months to come if he can get ratification from FIFA regarding his eligibility.
The former Everton defender has a Chinese grandfather, which helped facilitate his eye-catching move to the mega-rich Chinese Super League in January after his promising Everton career came to a halt.
After that impressive derby debut, Browning, unfortunately, hit a rough patch of luck. Injuries took their toll whilst a loan spell at a spiraling Sunderland did not help matters.
The Daily Mail reported that Everton sold Browning for around £4 million, which if correct was a brilliant piece of business for a player who had not played for the club since October 2015.
He has since become a regular for Guangzhou and will no doubt be on Marcelo Lippi’s radar for Team China.
A regular for his new team, he helped them in their run to the AFC Champions League last 16 and Everton fans will undoubtedly wish him all the best in his new endeavour.
China, of course, would also have to qualify for a World Cup for only the second time. But following recent 5-0 and 7-0 wins against the Maldives and Guam respectively, hope is high.
Potentially, five teams from the AFC can qualify and with Qatar, the current reigning Asian Cup winners already qualified as hosts, China will fancy their chances with the likes of Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Iran to make it to the World Cup for the first time since 2002.
Everton fans would undoubtedly love it if Browning does indeed make it to a World Cup, even if it is through a rather extraordinary route.