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Hiddink`s Memoir 4 - “They Became to Be Able to Make Chances at the Last Minute.”

Hiddink`s Memoir 4 - “They Became to Be Able to Make Chances at the Last Minute.”

Posted July. 04, 2002 22:31,   


I told my friends, “I like Korean players very much and everything goes well because they follow my lead very well.” I assured them that I would make the world be surprised. I was confident.

Korea lost to France that day, but we played a wonderful game. The way the Korean players play and the rhythm of the game were something to be praised. Korean players got confidence and their morale was raised very much. The Korean team learned much through the previous matches against Scotland and England. However, as we all know, France team is a very fascinating team that plays a state of the art football. In the friendly match against France, Korea played as fascinating game as the French team played in its best days. The Korean team showed the world their excellent ability to press and check the opponent players.

The French players came up to me after the game and complained, “it was too hot for us to play. The Korean team played their game but we couldn’t.” They seemed very upset after the match. I couldn’t hide my pride. It was an incomparable praise to the Korean team that the French team showed that attitude.

I saw unlimited possibilities from the Korean team after the match against France. The Korean players made chances endlessly until the referee blew the final whistle. The Korean players made hope although it seemed hopeless because of the lack of time. During the injury time, they made chances at the 91st minute or 92nd minute. The Korean players never gave up, no matter what, and showed their will to collapse the opponent team.

I usually told my players, “now, we have the abilities to make chances even at the last minute.” The Korean players later proved that in the quarterfinal match against Italy. I did not give up the hope even though we were down by 1 and the time was almost up. The Korean players never stop. How boastful team it is!

Actually, I saw the hope when I first met the players last year. The Korean players thought the World Cup itself as an honor and they were ready to do anything to be a star in that stage. Their attitudes like that was a big shock to me.

Sul Ki-hyun arrived from Europe the night before the game against the Arab Emirates on February 12th of last year in Dubay. I asked him purposely the next day, “Can you play?” I wanted to test his will power. Sul Ki-hyun answered, “although I played a full game two days ago, I can still play about 30 minutes.”

That was the point. It didn’t matter how the Korean team did previously. I like the slogan ‘dream will come true’ that the audience showed as a card section during the World Cup. I think that nothing is impossible if you have a strong will.

I trained my players hard. I wanted to make gamecocks out of them. A nice guy is merely a coward who evades his responsibilities. I didn’t put in the team doctor although my players got injured during the real game or practice game unless the injury was really serious. It is possible to use techniques or tactics only if the players have strong will power. The reason I swear much is to keep the intensity level as high as possible. I put more emphasis on this point when I selected the players. The physique is not an absolute thing.

It seemed like that the previous Korean national team preferred tall players, but it was not necessary. The previous reputation was not a thing to consider, either. I saw many cases that unknown players became big stars. Romario and Kokoo, who I picked and raised, were among them. Players’ will to win is the most important thing. After that, the manager should figure out the most suitable tactics after watching the plays that they can make.

The Korean players were wonderful. They were not only full of fight but also confident. The reason why I wanted to play against strong European teams after big losses against France, and the Czech Republic was because I believed my players’ will power. I emphasized to my players, “Do not back up. To win against Europe, we should keep playing against Europe and making mistakes, and learn from those mistakes.” The reason why I promoted the young players boldly was because I wanted them to learn from their mistakes.

Korea overcame the fear about Europe for the first time at the two friendly matches against Croatia on November of last year. Korea solved, for the most part, the problems in defense at those games. They remained calm and didn’t be cheated by their fast penetration to the second line. It was something they have learned from an old and repeated mistake. Therefore, I was able to play fascinating games with very offense-oriented football.

The Korean team became a team that no one could look down since the practice at the La Manga, Spain, which was my hometown in my heart, on March. The result of the physical training, that we kept doing it regardless of criticisms since the Gold Cup on February, was started to appear. And you know what happened after that. We won a complete victory against Finland, and got a draw without giving up any point while the defenders used three-backs and four-backs freely against Turkey.

The President Kim Dae-jung visited the Paju Training Center in Kyunggi-Do before the World Cup. I entreated the President to solve the military duty problems of the players if Korea made to the round of sixteen, and my dream came true. The Korean players go out to the world for their bigger dreams.

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