Vietnam’s soccer coach Park: ‘Popularity is like smoke’
Park Hang-seo is Vietnam’s national hero who led the country to the championship of the Southeast Asian Games for the first time in 60 years. Park (60) and Vietnam’s U-23 team players were received with warm welcome when they appeared at the arrival section in Gimhae International Airport on Saturday. About 150 Vietnamese people including those living and studying in Korea chanted “Park Hang-seo, you are the best,” while waving the Vietnamese national flag.
Despite his immense popularity, Park was seen humble. “Popularity can disappear just like smoke,” Park said. “I am always trying hard to live humble, ordinary life without being swayed (by popularity).”
Soccer teams generally run a training camp at a place with warm weather, but Park chose to visit Korea during freezing cold winter season. “I will focus on managing of players with injuries and recovery of their physical and mental conditions, breathing clean air in Tongyeong,” Park said. “I will concentrate on treatment of players with injuries in Korea that offers advanced medical technology.” Commenting on Team Vietnam’s chance to advance to the World Cup finals, Park said, “It is never easy to pass the qualifying round. Our goal is to pass the group league,” taking a rather cautious stance.
Park has been clinching victory after victory while serving as coach for both Vietnam’s national team (A-match team) and U-23 team. He recently earned the nickname “Dangson” literally meaning “times of good luck” in Vietnam. “I like whichever nickname that people use to express their affection,” Park said with a smile.
Some Korean soccer fans have said they wish to see Park return to Korea to lead the national team here. However, the veteran coach, who has become Vietnam’s national hero, seems to have no interest in returning to his fatherland. “There are many talented young Korean coaches. I am not interested in the position of the Korean team coach,” he said. “My era has already passed (in Korea).”
Yun-Cheol Jeong firstname.lastname@example.org