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Lee CY Soaring as Korea`s Newest Soccer Star

Posted January. 28, 2010 08:53,   


Former Seoul FC coach Senol Gunes described midfielder Lee Chung-yong this way in 2007: splendid foot skills, adroit ball touch and wide vision.

After practice, the coach summoned Lee and told him, “Do your best in practice and I’ll give you a chance soon.”

As promised, Lee, who was 19 at the time, started at striker soon after. From then, the baby-faced player consolidated his position as a wing at FC Seoul and made the Korean national team.

National team coach Huh Jung-moo commended Lee by saying, “He is a major pillar who will spearhead Korean soccer over the next 10 years.”

Lee, now 22, is flying high after scoring the fifth goal of his rookie season in the English Premier League for the Bolton Wanderers. Nicknamed “Blue Dragon,” he scored the game’s only goal in the 34th minute in a 1-0 home win over Burnley yesterday.

The player has five goals and five assists this season for 10 offensive points, setting a new Korean mark in England’s top league. Seol Ki-hyeon held the previous mark of nine (four goals and five assists) set in the 2005-06 season for Reading.

Lee is also tied with Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung for most goals by a Korean player in the Premiership. Park also had five in the 2006-2007 season.

“Many Korean players have performed well overseas, but (Lee) Chung-yong is the first to dominate,” said former Korean international and current FC Seoul assistant coach Choi Yong-soo.

In addition to his keen scoring and assist abilities, Lee has received praise from the English media for “splendid and well-refined soccer skills” in his play.

He is said to have inherited a good athletic sense from his father, who was a competitive runner, and is also known for his high intelligence. His father Lee Jang-geun said, “He did so well at school, I didn’t want him to play soccer. I remember his IQ was nearly 150.”

SBS soccer commentator Park Moon-seong added, “Whichever team he joins, Lee (Chung-yong) adapts to the team’s style of play or tactics. He instantly learns what his coach wants and plays smart in games.”