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Lee Dong-Kuk Strives to Secure Start-Up

Posted April. 18, 2002 09:04,   


The most popular one among the Korean national soccer players, who are currently training in Daegu, is Lee Dong-Kuk (23. Pohang Steelers). When the team moves from the field to the bus after training, most fans gather around Lee. The team’s coaching staff urges him to move, but it is not easy to go through the fans, who range from elementary students to housewives in their 40s. It is quite common for the bus to start off late because of Lee.

When Lee made his debut in the professional football in 1998, his handsomeness and lightning shooting made him a `national star`, but his popularity is not like what it used to be. Frequent injury and the failure in Germany did not meet fans’ expectations.

At least in Daegu, however, his popularity is enormous. Because Lee graduated from Posco Industrial High School and is currently playing in Pohang, sense of regional affiliation might have effected. “It’s Lee Seung-Yep for baseball and Lee Dong-Kuk for football,” said a 3rd grader in middle school, Lee Tae-In, and Shin Yong-Chul (43) also said, “He was from here after all, so I like him better.”

Whenever Lee scores a goal in practice matches, shouting and applauding become particularly louder. If he misses the goal at decisive moments, sighing also grows. It certainly is a different reaction from other players.

Lee is looking forward to the Costa Rican match that will be held in Daegu on the 20th. Although he is worse than before, he still feels that he owes some great goals for the fans’ faithful support.

Especially, this match is important for participation in the World Cup. The Costa Rican match is, perhaps, the last chance for Lee, who is not even sure of being on the entry list.

As Choi Sung-Kuk (Korea Univ.), Jung Jo-Kuk (Daeshin High.), Ahn Jung-Hwan (Perugia), and Sul Gi-Hyun (Anderlecht) join the team, competition will become more difficult, so Lee will have to show something in this match. His participation in the Chinese match, in which Hwang Sun-Hong (Kashiwa Reysol) and Choi Yong-Su (Jef United Ichihara) will join, is also uncertain now.

“I didn’t feel too nice about playing only for one match during the European field training, but I am encouraged by the fans here. I am confident I’ll do well if I get to play, because I am in a good shape,” said Lee.