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Injury Sends Lee to World Cup Sideline

Posted April. 17, 2006 07:20,   


His facial expression remained stoic except for the red in his eyes, which Lee Dong-guk attributed to sleeplessness caused by emotional stress and jetlag. The Sporek Rehabilitation Center, located in Offenbach, a neighboring city of Frankfurt, diagnosed that surgery was unavoidable to repair Lee’s injured cross ligament.

This reporter met with the 27-year-old Pohang striker for an interview at his lodging. Lee had just returned from a Frankfurt game he had been invited to by Cha Du-ri, who plays for Frankfurt. “Du-ri asked me about what happened. I told him that my cross ligament was torn. I could tell he felt sorry for me.” Lee sat down limping on his right leg. Resting the injured leg on a chair his manager pulled up for him, Lee said that his current treatment involved massage and electric therapy. The diagnosis did not shock Lee, since it was what he anticipated. His wife of four months, Lee Su-jin, consoled him. But it was not so easy for Lee to shake off the thought that all his hard work has come to nothing. “I started to sink to the bottom after missing the last World Cup. It took me two years to get back on my feet and get ready for the Germany World Cup. Now I must wait for another four years. It feels like forever,” said Lee.

Lee will be watching the Togo match-

Lee will start a six-month rehabilitation program after surgery on April 19. A full recovery could take as long as four months to a year. “I will be watching the Togo match since it will be held in Frankfurt. I did my part in getting us this far,” Lee said. He was offered some encouraging words by Coach Hwang Seon-hong, who said there is still time and not to give up hope. Lee said with a smile, “I have been compared to Hwang in many ways. I think I even resemble the misfortunes he had in the past. At least I’m still young.” Hwang, unlike Lee, was 30 years old when he suffered an injury and remained lame during the France World Cup. But he got to show his best in the 2002 Word Cup as a 34-year-old midfielder. Lee will be thirty-one in the year 2010, when the next World Cup will be held in South Africa.

I will rise again-

“Korean soccer has never been about star players or prima donnas, it’s been about solid teamwork. Missing a Lee Dong-guk or two won’t shake up the team,” said Lee after hearing the news that Advocaat was coming up with a backup plan. “I regret letting down fans that were waiting for some good news from me. I know they’re rooting for me in Korea. I feel indebted by the support they have shown me. I tell myself everyday that someday I will repay it.”

Yoon-Jong Yoo gustav@donga.com