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Freestyle Soccer Is His Art

Posted January. 18, 2006 03:00,   


“Freestyle soccer is an art where you create a piece of art with a soccer ball. I want to give hopes and dreams to young people with my freestyle soccer.”

Woo Hee-yong is a world-class soccer artist who enjoys soccer more than anything. When this reporter met him at Cheonggye Square, he was showing brilliant moves using all parts of his body. The soccer ball looked like it was glued to him.

“Freestyle soccer” is a term for what used to be called “soccer circus”, or “art soccer”.

Woo lives in Britain, and he is actually more famous overseas than he is in Korea. Not everyone in Britain knows who Park Ji-sung is, but it is safe to say that everybody in Britain knows Woo. Last year, he was featured in a BBC commercial with legendary soccer stars Gary Lineker, Robbie Kean, and Germain Defoe. During Euro 2004, the tourney’s official sponsor, T-Mobile, featured him in their commercial. When Ronaldinho of Brazil shot a Nike commercial with Woo, he became so mesmerized by Woo’s performance that he asked him for an autograph.

Woo’s 10-minute performances during premier league games earn him 3,000 pounds each.

Woo founded the World Freestyle Soccer Federation and has involved himself in his mission to spread freestyle soccer. Starting January 19, he will tour five Japanese cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, and the island of Hokkaido. He is also planning to be in Korea to open the “Freestyle Competition” event. He is promoting this event on the website cafe.daum.net/kingwooheeyong.

“I am thankful and happy that my skill can entertain people who are going through tough times,” Woo says.

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com