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When Park Runs, Miracles Happen

Posted June. 17, 2005 03:25,   


The 8500 spectators in the stands were slowly moving away from their seats. The score 44 minutes into the latter half was 0-1. The crowd was certain that the game was lost. But to the Taegeuk warriors and Red Devils, as well as the 200 Korean nationals of the Netherlands and Germany, giving up was not an option. The Taegeuk warriors were pushing themselves to the limit, and the Korean crowd was cheering their signature “Dae~ Hanminguk”. Thus the miraculous three-minute drama was born.

The 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship held at the Emmen Stadium, Netherlands on June 16 was between Korea and Nigeria in the group F. Korea was on the losing side with a score of 0-1, but scored two goals in the last three minutes, bringing the score to 2-1.

The miracle was brought about by the soccer genius Park Joo-young (20, FC Seoul). Park has played away games against the Ukraine and Kuwait for the 2006 Germany World Cup Asian preliminaries, and was exhausted physically and mentally during the June 16 game. Just 26 minutes into the latter half of the game, he had also sustained injuries on his left elbow when playing against opposing defense Kennedy Chinwo.

After emergency treatment he ran back to the field and scored a goal 44 minutes into the latter half of the game with a free kick.

Park’s role would not have been possible without his teammates. “After doing badly at the penalty kick two minutes into the latter half of the game, I turned around but everyone was smiling. They seemed to tell me not to worry. I had tears in my eyes. It was then that I started doing well,” Park said “My elbow reacts sometimes, but it’s okay. We’ll have good results in the upcoming game against Brazil.”

Baek Ji-hoon (20•FC Seoul), who placed the winning goal, said that “Were it not for Park’s goal I wouldn’t have scored either. All the players were of a single mind,” and credited the glory to his teammates.

Coach Park Sung-hwa said that “Our victory was due to the players adopting a single attitude against the opposing team. I’m so proud of our players.”

FIFA member Emmanuel Maradas, who watched the day’s game, said that “It’s really a miraculous win,” and that “Scoring two goals in the last three minutes against the formidable lions of Nigeria shows the typical Asian spirit.” Maradas, who watched Korea’s rise to the semifinals in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, said that “It’s the indomitable spirit of the Korean players that have captivated their fans.”

On June 16, soccer fans worldwide were again stunned by the "red wave" of Korean soccer so prominently put to display in the 2002 World Cup.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com