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Cha Doo-ri: Full Confidence and Full Speed Ahead

Posted March. 23, 2005 22:50,   


“Frankfurt is not only my birth place, but the hometown of my heart,” said “Cha-boom Junior,” Cha Doo-ri (25, Frankfurt) as he confidently entered Inchon International Airport on March 23 for the first time in three months. This time, he will play in the Korean national soccer team’s preliminary match before the final Asian preliminary rounds for the 2006 German World Cup against Uzbekistan. Is his confidence a result of his play in the Bundesliga of Germany, where he has shown great progress in the second league with three goals and six assists?

It has been six months since Cha Doo-ri has played in a national team match. Last September, when he was cited for elbowing an opponent in the team’s second Asian preliminary round match with Vietnam, he was suspended for four games. The suspension ends with the Korea-Saudi Arabia match on March 26.

“In almost any cafe I go to in Frankfurt these days, I get to drink tea for free. Even fans who pass by me on streets cheer me up, saying, ‘You are doing a good job,’” he said. Cha Doo-ri is forever a “Frankfurt man.” His father, Cha Bum-kun (Suwon Samsung head coach) also played soccer for Frankfurt, and he himself was born there. He finds himself at home as he has many friends there. “I have no intention to leave Frankfurt,” he said.

His great performance on the field these days mostly comes from feeling comfortable there. In addition, he went through a harsh winter, training with other players in his team, with whom he has a great rapport.

How would his father support him? “I hardly talk about soccer with my father, but when he praises me, it makes me excited, because he does not talk much in every day life.” After the team’s friendly match against Germany on December 19 (in which Korea won, 3-1), he heard compliments from his father. He said such remarks were made for the first time, and probably for the last time.

Now we know why his head looks always shaved. He said he shaves it as he does not like to go to either the barbershop or the beauty salon. Now it makes him even jittery if he does not shave it like that. His mother, Oh Eun-mi, who spends half of her time every month in Germany to be with her son, said, “I keep telling him to get married because I feel bad about seeing him living alone,” but Cha has so far avoid tying the knot, saying, “I want to make you suffer a little more, mother.”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com