Why Dunfermline Athletic footballer Leon Jones plays as ‘Lok On’ in Scottish Championship - ‘it’s important to acknowledge my Chinese heritage’
Dunfermline Athletic football star Leon Jones has been building his fan base in East Asia after opting to have his Chinese name on the back of his club jersey, in a tribute to his Hong Kong-born mother and Chinese-born grandparents.
The 23-year-old centre-back signed for the Scottish Championship side in August after graduating from the University of Kentucky in the US, where he starred for the NCAA division one Wildcats team.
The former Hearts under-20s player hopes having “Lok On” printed on his back will not only celebrate his dual heritage, but also help him achieve his dream of playing for Hong Kong or China one day.
Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.
“Lok On means ‘happy and peaceful’ and was chosen by my mum when I was born. It also represents my name Leon in Chinese,” said Jones, whose full Chinese name is Jung Lok-on (Zhong Lean simplified).
“Ever since I was wee, I have always said if I get the opportunity to have a name on the back of my jersey I would choose ‘Lok On’. Having it on my jersey is especially meaningful to me as I feel it’s important to acknowledge my Chinese heritage. I am extremely proud to be half-Chinese and I hope the Chinese fans are pleased.
“I have actually had many messages and even mailed letters from China since signing with my new team ” people sending their best wishes and hoping that I can represent the national team.”
In the short term, Jones’ priority is to nail down a starting spot with Dunfermline while spending valuable time with his family having been across the pond for more than four years.
And Glasgow-born Jones revealed he received the blessing of both his Scottish father and Hong Kong mother to make the name change for his jersey.
“My mother was really quite happy about it, my father just as much, too,” Jones said. ‘He even wanted me to have ‘Lok On’ on my back instead of ‘Jones’. He just wants me to do the best I can and to get the opportunities he thinks I deserve.”
The Pars have yet to register their first win of the season, though have drawn their last three games, with Jones donning his new jersey in a bizarre debut which abruptly ended after 14 minutes when the match was called off because of stadium power issues, according to Scottish bewspaper The Courier. However, Jones knows there is still a long season ahead.
“I have a big desire to do well for Dunfermline as I believe that could lead to opportunities down the line at international level,” he said. “All I can do is make sure to work my hardest, put in good performances and trust that those in charge, with China and Hong Kong, are watching and recognising what I am doing.”
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.