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Striker Lee DG Makes New Start in Soccer Life

Posted July. 12, 2010 12:50,   


“I’ve really waited so long…”

Lee Dong-gook managed to say this but could not say more for a while. He exhaled a big sigh as his eyes filled with tears.

As he left the media center, the veteran striker, 31, said, “This is not the World Cup I thought it was. I need time to come to terms with myself.” He said this immediately after Korea lost to Uruguay, 2-1, in the World Cup’s second round June 27.

Nicknamed “Lion King,” Lee waited 12 years to play in a World Cup. He was cut from the 2002 team and suffered a knee injury right before the 2006 tournament.

Having taken a break for the World Cup, the domestic K-League resumed play with a game between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Daegu FC at Jeonju World Cup Stadium Saturday. Jeonbuk designated the day “Lion King Day” to celebrate Lee’s comeback.

Child fans wore uniforms emblazoned with his name. Others supporters heated up the mood with “The Lee Dong-gook Song,” and some 12,000 fans cheered for him when he was subbed into the game early in the second half.

The league’s top scorer last season, Lee had no time to come to terms with himself. He replaced Kim Hyung-beom in the 54th minute with Jeonbuk leading 2-0, and scored 22 minutes later. Lee added another in the game’s final moments.

After the game, a smiling Lee said, “I was really surprised to see a large placard at the stadium. The fans’ support was a great help. I was so grateful to get so much encouragement from people near me. The World Cup is over but my soccer life has started again.”

Defending league champion Jeonbuk beat Daegu, 4-0, as Lee and Croatian teammate Krunoslav Lovrek each scored twice to break a three-game winless streak. Jeonbuk is sixth in the league standings with five wins, two losses and four ties (19 points).

Daegu ranks 14th with two wins, seven defeats and two ties (eight points).

The Pohang Steelers played to a 1-1 home draw against the Chunnam Dragons. Pohang striker Seol Ki-hyeon, who returned home after playing in the English Premier League, made his K-league debut.

Losing six and tying three in their last nine games, the Steelers are 11th in the league with two wins, six defeats and four ties (10 points). The Dragons are 10th with three wins, six losses and three ties (12 points).