||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2014)|
|Full name||Li Tie|
|Date of birth||18 May 1977|
|Place of birth||Shenyang, Liaoning, China|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder|
|2002–2003||→ Everton (loan)||29||(0)|
|2012–||Guangzhou Evergrande (assistant)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20 October 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Li Tie began his football career at the age of fifteen, joining Liaoning FC's youth academy system in 1992. The following year he was sent to Brazil for a five-year training programme sponsored by Jianlibao and became the captain of the newly organized youth football team. Li started his professional career by playing for Liaoning FC and rose to prominence during the 1999 league season when Liaoning finished as runners-up within the league.
One of the highest regarded Chinese players of his generation, Li secured a loan transfer in a deal brokered between sponsor Kejian and Premier League side Everton in August 2002. Despite initial skepticism at Merseyside, his first season as an Everton player was a surprising success. Then manager David Moyes played him in twenty-nine league games and started him in most of his appearances where his displays as a defensive midfielder helped the club achieve a seventh-place finish during the 2002-03 season.
Following Li's successful loan spell, Everton battled with his former club Liaoning FC to sign him on a permanent basis after the 2002–03 season and the deal was finally negotiated on 12 August 2003 when Li signed a three-year contract. Everton paid £1,200,000 for his transfer with two-thirds of the deal paid by sponsorships. The club's ownership let him move to the Premier League despite higher offers from Chinese clubs. At the beginning of the 2003-04 season, Li's start was marred by an ejection against Arsenal on 16 August 2003 after only been substituted on for David Unsworth. A series of injuries followed which meant that Li only played five league matches that season. The last injury, a broken leg picked up during international duty in February 2004, ruled him out for another twelve months. In January 2005, when Li made his return to the pitch by playing for Everton's reserve side against Bolton Wanderers, he lasted just forty-one minutes and required his leg to be reassessed.
In the summer of 2005, eighteen months since his last game for the Everton first team, Li played the full match against FC Gamlitz in a pre-season friendly. He made a number of other preseason appearances and looked as if he was finally coming back to full fitness. However, he never managed to break back into the first team despite playing regularly for the reserves and even earning another international call-up for the Chinese national team. In March 2006, Li underwent another operation to remove pieces of bone that had grown on his ankle during his time on the sidelines.
In May 2006, Li was released by Everton and Sheffield United announced his signing on a free transfer in July 2006, agreeing to a two-year contract. Following his move, Li spent some time training with China League One side Chengdu Blades, which was owned by Sheffield United, while waiting for his visa clearance. On 19 September 2006, Li made his first competitive club start since January 2004 by appearing for Sheffield United in a league cup match against Bury. However, Li did not make another appearance for Sheffield United afterwards due to his lingering injury.
On 12 October 2007, Li was told he could leave Sheffield United on a free transfer with then manager Bryan Robson saying, "He's not in my plans and he is free to go wherever he wants on a free transfer." Only two days later though, Sheffield United changed their mind on the decision and stated that he would stay at the club until the end of the season before having his future evaluated.
Back to China
Despite reassurances to the contrary, Li did indeed move in 2008, transferring to Sheffield United's affiliated club Chengdu Blades to reinforce the team after their promotion to the Chinese Super League and made his debut in the opening game of the 2008 season against his former club Liaoning Whowin. He his first league goal of the season in a 3–1 win against Shenzhen Shangqingyin in October 2008.
After spending one season with Chengdu Blades, Li decided to return to his hometown club Liaoning Whowin to help them in their promotion push back to the top tier. It proved to be an immediate success when he guided them to the securing the second tier league title and being promoted back to the top flight after only one season. He suffered an injury in October 2010 which ruled him out for the whole 2011 season. Li announced his retirement at the end of the 2011 season after not fully requiring from his leg injury.
In 1997, Li Tie was one of four players called up from the Shenzhen Youth for the final round of 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifiers by Qi Wusheng, along with Li Jinyu, Sui Dongliang, and Zhang Xiaorui. Li was already a veteran in the Chinese national team by the time the national team played in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Despite recovering from an injury, Li returned to competitive football in June 2006 with substitute appearances for the Chinese national team against Switzerland and France. He was once again called up to play for the national team in a friendly against Thailand on 10 August 2006 and in a 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Singapore on 16 August 2006. Li remained as a part of the national side and was called up by Zhu Guanghu to play the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, but failed to make an appearance during the tournament.
- "Everton secure Li Tie deal". BBC News. 12 August 2003.
- "Campbell off in Arsenal win". BBC News. 16 August 2003.
- "Sheffield Utd close in on Li Tie". bbc.co.uk. 6 July 2006. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
- "Blades keep Tie on". skysports.com. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "Li Tie to Re-appear on Domestic Pitch". crienglish.com. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "成都3–1深圳止连败 汪嵩传射建功李铁中超首球". sports.163.com. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2009. (Chinese)