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Soccer Star Continues to Grow

Posted January. 28, 2005 22:50,   


Park Joo-young (20, sophomore at Korea University) ascended the throne as the MVP and the highest scorer in the Qatar Invitational Tournament, the first of its kind in the New Year, following his glory in last year’s Asia Youth Soccer Tournament. He is now enjoying great popularity that some coined as the “Park Joo-young syndrome.” He is foretelling the huge stir he will create from this point on.

There are signs that many pro soccer teams will passionately move to recruit him. Some officials in the soccer industry hinted at the fact that some professional soccer teams such as the J-league in Japan are eyeing Park Joo-young while local teams are also joining in.

Among local teams, FC Seoul is being the most aggressive. It has been making behind-the-scenes efforts and negotiations to recruit him since last year. Presently, Park Joo-young says, “I have not decided to join a pro team,” yet the dominant view is that he is likely to go to a professional team following the regular match between Korea University and Yonsei University in the upcoming autumn.

At the age of 17 in 1993, the “new soccer emperor,” Ronaldo Luiz Nazario De Lima transferred to Cruzeiro of Brazil to PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands. Afterwards, he moved from Barcelona (Spain) and Inter Milan (Italy) to Real Madrid (Spain) and now enjoys his fame as a super star who received $45 million (about 45 billion won) for changing teams. Wayne Rooney of England, who won the title of being the second highest scorer in last year’s Euro 2004 Football Championships by making four goals, decided to switch teams and wear the uniform of the Manchester United FC after receiving an astronomical amount of money (27 million pounds; about 56 billion won).

For his part, Park Joo-young is expected to join a local professional team and then advance to a European team one or two years down the road. The average European super soccer star gets paid more than 10 billion won for joining its team. If Park’s currently eminent play continues, he is likely to receive a minimum of three billion won when he joins a European team.

It is also almost certain that he will join the national soccer team. Experts agree that he will do so after the International Youth Soccer Tournament that will be held in the Netherlands in June. Diego Armando Maradona, at 18 years of age, was not selected as a player of the Argentinean national soccer team due to his young age. Yet, all other great players like Pele, Ronaldo, and Rooney were chosen as national soccer players before they reached 20 and grew to become world-renowned stars who play in broad stages such as the World Cup and the Euro Tournament.

Soon-Il Kwon stt77@donga.com