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Lee Chun-soo Is Confident

Posted November. 17, 2004 23:06,   


“Who else can do the free kick? Of course, I can be on the front page of the newspaper if I score a goal, but we all have to set our own glories aside for collective success. If we advance to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, then we’ll be able to get wider recognition and get better contracts,” said Lee Chun-soo of the Spanish Primera Liga club Numancia. His blunt and insolent, yet loving, way of talking and aggressive playing style are enough to amuse soccer fans.

Lee is the only Korean soccer player to play in the Spainish Primera Liga, the Eldorado of soccer. Confidence is all he needs in his life. This reporter met with Lee, who came to Korea for the 2006 World Cup qualifier against the Maldives, at the National Football Center in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on November 16.

“I feel very happy in Spain. Even though I cannot speak Spanish very well, I become friends with other players at any time through body language. Plus, I’m not the kind of person who would let language barrier discourage me,” said Lee. In spite of being sent to Numancia on loan from Real Sociedad before the beginning of this season, he was never discouraged.

On the fact that he has not scored a goal in the Prima Liga this season, “I guess I should get a shaman ceremony or something. I came so close to netting a goal recently; I hit the goal post twice. But I believe my chances will come soon after so many trials and failure,” said Lee.

Whether during a training session or a game, Lee takes sole responsibility for the free kick. He never wants to give any other players opportunities. “In order to get a goal from a free kick, I should do the kick. Because I have been so aggressive, Coach Jon Bonfrere does not say anything now. You see, I do get beautiful goals sometimes,” grinned Lee.

A key reason to his popularity is that he actually carries out what he says in action. Lee saved Korean soccer while playing in both the Olympic team and the national team. On September 8, in the second stage of the qualifying round for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Lee led the Korean national team past Vietnam 2-1 with his fantastic free kick. On March 17, in the final preliminary round for the 2002 Athens Olympics, Lee fired a game-winning goal for the Olympic team to win over Iran 1-0. Lee’s undying spirit always boosts morale of the national team.

Soria, Spain, the home city of Numancia, recently named Lee as the Player of Year. The people of Soria recognized this dynamic young player from Korea as the star of Numancia.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com