Ki Sung-yueng expressed his expectations for a matchup with his best friend Lee Chung-yong during his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “Lee Chung-yong is a good friend of mine whom I respect. We spoke on the phone yesterday. It’s a shame we can’t play for the same team,” said Ki. “We played against each other in the U.K but it’d be strange to play against him in Korea.”
Ki and Lee both played for FC Seoul between 2006 and 2009. Ki was born in January 1989, and Lee was born in July 1988 but they have been close friends as Ki started a school a year early. Lee joined FC Seoul first in 2004 and Ki later joined the team in 2006. The two were the team’s main players since 2007. Football fans thought they were the future of Korean football and called them the “two dragons.”
After the end of the 2009 season, the two started playing in European leagues, with Lee joining Bolton Wanderers of the Premier League and Ki joining Celtic F.C. of the Scottish Premier League. After signing with Ulsan Hyundai FC before the start of the season, Lee has registered three goals and one assist in nine games as of Wednesday.
When asked why he chose FC Seoul among other teams in the K-league, Ki said, “I was upset with the team in the winter (when the negotiation broke down). I cannot say my feelings weren’t hurt. But as I was separated from my family in Spain due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I started to think deeply about my family and began to consider returning to the K-league. I talked a lot with manager Choi Yong-soo during the negotiations this time.”