Oliver Kahn 'Never Gives Up' on China

Former German soccer icon looks for next sports star

BEIJING -- German soccer legend Oliver "King" Kahn will launch a 10-part reality TV show in China on Thursday that will see young goalkeepers compete for a place in the training camp run by the German Football Assn.

"In this show Oliver Kahn is not just looking for China's new football talent, but sharing his advice for success in sports and life," according to German airline Lufthansa -- a sponsor of the series on Harbin City-based Heilongjiang Satellite TV.

The one-hour show, called "Never Give Up!" starts in the 10:50 p.m. time slot and features 10 contestants, aged 17 to 24, including two women.

Heilongjiang, in northeast China, is home to some of the country's tallest people.

Soccer vies with basketball for China's most popular team sport and Kahn's show is the third soccer format to make it to China. Earlier, "Soccer Prince" came to Hunan Satellite TV with Fremantle in 2007, and, in 2008, "Super Soccer Star" aired on Guangdong TV with involvement from U.K.-based Galleon Holdings.

"These other shows didn't rush back for second seasons but I think focusing on a goalkeeper is a good idea and it's encouraging that they've brought in girls," said Rowan Simons, a Chinese media consultant who also runs Beijing's Club Football.

Kahn, 40, retired from the Bayern Munich football club last year. He is a three-time winner of the title world's best goalkeeper and the only goalie to be named best player at the World Cup, in 2002.

It was during the 2002 World Cup when China really caught soccer fever. The China v. Brazil match drew a television audience of roughly 25%, according to Simons, one of the few foreigners to call European soccer matches on television in Chinese.

Still, Kahn knows the agony of defeat. That same year in the final, he missed a shot by Brazilian player Ronaldo, who scored the first goal in a 2-0 Brazil victory.

"Finally, I have become much more stronger from this defeat," Kahn told the China Daily newspaper.
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