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Korea Will Forever Be In My Heart

Posted July. 01, 2002 23:01,   


I looked up at the stadium filled with red waves after the final World Cup game against Turkey. I felt something warm rising deep inside of me. It was a different feeling from when we won the games against Portugal, Italy and Spain. Before I even realized, my eyes were warming up.

Now there is nothing more precious than Korea to me. I love Korea. I can confidently say that Korea is my second homeland. Whatever I end up doing in the future, Korea will forever be a part of me and I will never forget it.

Many people call my work as the Korean soccer team coach, "the Hiddink style management renovation". They also add the term, "the Hiddink syndrome" to the phenomena that occurred during this time. I am grateful to the Korean people who have so highly thought of me. However, I am merely a human being. I also make mistakes. Honestly, I don`t believe in "heroism". What I have done as the Korean soccer team coach was what I have been doing for the past few years. I only helped each player develop on his own.

I don`t like to beat around the bushes. I always talk honestly and in a straightforward manner. By using honest and direct language, I tell each player what I want. It is my belief that this is the best method to maximize each player`s ability. Only then is it possible to bring out the "chemical combination" of the team and maximize its ability. That is exactly what I have done.

I would like to ask one favor. I hope that the Korean people will be more patient when the new coach arrives since it will take time for this person to organize a new team. It will take quite a while to form a new team and a new base.

The Korean soccer team will continuously grow into a finer team if they maintain their steady endeavor as they have done so far. Additionally, they must continue the search for new talented players in order to reap good results at the Olympic games and the World Cup games. If a player doesn`t play, he can`t gain experience. One must remember this. It takes patience to develop good players and a good team.

I still have some lingering emotions. Perhaps because I am a "perfectionist". The Korean team achieved more than was expected during this World Cup game. They tried extremely hard throughout the games. Yet, it still would have been nice if they had won the final game. I was not satisfied with the defense during the first few minutes. Soccer depends on the flow of the game. If one can confidently secure their position and ride the wave of the game, they can score a goal and play a great game. However, this did not happen at the game against Turkey.

This does not mean that I am dissatisfied. Overall, I am satisfied with how the Korean team played. Most of all, as I have said before, I am happy with how the team surprised the entire world with its play. Many people from different countries in South America, North America, and Europe called and emailed me to tell me that they were deeply impressed by how the Korean team played. They wrote that they were surprised at the enormous rooting for the Korean team by the people and the team`s top-level playing ability. Even though I was not satisfied with the game against Turkey, many people wrote that they enjoyed the team`s offensive plays.

What I like most about the Korean team is that they never give up even when the game does not go in the direction they want. They immediately return to their positions and continue to fight back. It seems like Koreans are always like this. They never give up. They rise and start again. Even after they take one step back, they start again. This is exactly what the Korean team did. What I thought about was the future when I took on the position as the Korean team coach. I wanted to accomplish more than just winning the World Cup games. I wanted to create an environment where the Korean team could improve its overall competitiveness.

However, this was not an easy task. The Korean team had to be equipped with something that no other teams had. If there were a strong foundation for competitiveness, there could develop a capacity to play against any other team in the world. It is important to be able to play over and over again during the exhausting games. In order to do so, the players must be physically fit.

What I consider more fulfilling than entering the best top 4 position in the World Cup games is the fact that I have accomplished establishing such fundamentals. The Korean players are no longer intimidated by stronger opponents. They do not pull back. The Korean players are able to carry out wonderful games displaying their true ability. The future of Korean soccer lies within the mindset of respecting the opponent without fearing them.

There were times when my friends asked me if I ever regret coming to Korea. Now, I do not have any regrets. Rather, I am happy. As I have stated before, I tried to establish long-term grounds for the Korean team to have a better competitive edge and I believe that I have accomplished a part of this. This is a memorable success for me as a soccer professional. It was also a personally fulfilling experience. I have shared great friendship with people that I have met in Korea. I will cherish the friendship that many Koreans have shown to me for a long time.

Keuk-In Bae Chi-Young Shin bae2150@donga.com higgledy@donga.com