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‘Stork’ Ready to Fly High Again

Posted February. 09, 2003 22:32,   


Whenever the young Hwang Sun-hong ran in the early morning, his father was there with him. He tied his taxi with his little son`s body and drove along the track to train him to become a great field player. But Hwang was more interested in soccer than running. Then, one day his father bought a pair of soccer shoes for him. They were made of vinyl and a kind easily found in a stationary store. Yet, Hwang slept that night with the shoes holding tightly in his arms.

Hwang was called a ‘stork’, very tall and very thin. His poor father felt so sad about the nickname. Once when he played for Yongmun Middle School, his father, hospitalized after a traffic accident, went to the stadium with help of a stick to see his son playing. Wearing a plastic cast, he had to stand all throughout the game. Hwang recollected, ˝I was running across the field 90 minutes crying within.˝

Hwang Sun-hong, now 34-year-old veteran player for Chonnam, announced at a press interview held in Tower Hotel on February 9 that he would retire and take on a coaching job. During the interview, he often looked up. It has been 24 years since he first began playing soccer.

He must have thought about the pair of vinyl shoes his father bought for him as he now ends the great chapter of his life as a player. He shouted `father` when he scored for his team during the World Cup match with the Polish team.

His decision came as he suffered from frequent injuries. He went through knee operations twice and also has been struggling with injuries on the Achilles` heel and thigh. After the World Cup, he returned to the Japanese Gashiwa team only to be expelled due to the poor conditions after a series of injuries. Then he came home for Cheonnam in September last year, but since then he has remained unfit to play.

Hwang Sun-hong`s career stands for the history of Korean soccer for more than a decade. It was December 1988 when Hwang, sophomore in Gunkuk University, made his debut in the international arena, heading a goal against the Japanese team during the Asian Cup finals.

He has scored 50 goals since then appearing in 103 A-matches. At home he made 31 goals and 16 assists in 64 matches. In 1999 as he played for Sereso Osaka in Japanese J League, he won the best scorer title with 24 goals, and in Japan he scored 42 goals in total in 72 matches. He has been one of the leading Asian scorers for years.

A player is to leave the ground one day, however. Hwang is no exception, and he is all determined to turn the closure into a chance for a new leap. He has a plan to become a coach. Cheonnam already agreed to hire him as an assistant coach. He will start his coaching career training the minor leaguers in the team as they returned from the winter training in Turkey.

As he decided to leave the ground, Hwang told the team that he would return 60 million won in three months salary he was paid in advance. The team now plans to use the money to form `Hwang Sun-hong Foundation` to help young players in Choennam area.

˝I want to be a World Cup team coach some day. I want to bring the joy of victory again and go to the very final.˝ The stork has still his strong wings. They are in fact ready to soar up in the sky again. And fans are wishing him good luck as he makes a new start.