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“Football Genius” Making a Comeback

Posted December. 27, 2006 03:30,   


Despite his consistently indifferent appearance, he must have been overwhelmed with anxiety on the inside this year.

Nicknamed the “football genius,” Park Chu-young (21, FC Seoul) had suddenly risen to stardom in 2005. He played vigorously on the national team, the youth national team and K-League, and finally won the rookie of the year award. His fame was even referred to as the “Park Chu-young syndrome,” but this year, it seems that the sensation has faded.

In the ‘best eleven’ poll of K-League, he failed to win a single vote. His performance in the 2006 World Cup and Doha Asian Games fell far short of the public’s expectations. Korea failed to proceed to the second round in the World Cup, and finished only fourth in the Asian Games.

With the season over, Park joined a charity game hosted by the Hong Myung-bo Scholarship Foundation but refused to give any interviews. “Even though he pretends to be cool, maintaining his usual poker face, he seems to be suffering from great disappointment,” said some of his acquaintances.

His initial goal was to acquire special immunity from national military service by either proceeding to the second round in the World Cup or winning a gold medal in the Asian Games and then, getting an opportunity to play in an overseas league. The fact that he has achieved none of these goals this year must be the root of his disappointment.

After the Asian Games, he has returned to his university (Korea University, third year in Dept. of Physical Education) and spent some busy time turning in essays. Ryu Tae-ho, a professor in the department, said, “I have the impression that Park has grown.”

As Park’s academic advisor while he was a freshman, Ryu commented, “His mental condition seems to be more stable than it was when I met him before the Asian Games. It looks like he has grown mature while undergoing hard times.” He said, “Park is ready to get over his failed goals and set up new plans for his future. Sooner or later, he will be back on track.”

Can we be sure about his professor’s predictions? Staying at his home in Daegu, Park is now enjoying his vacation which is until the fifth of next month. He is recovering his reputation in the upcoming year with the new manager of FC Seoul, Şenol Güneş (54), former coach of the Turkish national team.

Concerning problems of playing in some games, Park used to have delicate disagreements with his ex-manager Lee Jang-soo. With his new manager, he wants to get over everything in the past and have himself evaluated only by his competence.

Park will join the team in January 6 next year and work out to get back in shape. In late January, the team is scheduled to leave for Antalya, Turkey where their winter training camp is pitched.

Can the “football genius” smile again in 2007?