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Shouts of cheers for Maradona echo in Kim Min-jae era

Posted May. 06, 2023 07:55,   

Updated May. 06, 2023 07:55


Napoli, where national team defender Kim Min-jae (27) is playing, jumped to the top of Italian professional football Serie A after 33 years. Kim Min-jae became the first Korean player to experience a Serie A title.

Napoli drew 1-1 against Udinese on the 5th in an away Serie A match in the 2022-2023 season. This season, it is the fastest win confirmed in the top 5 European football leagues. Accordingly, Napoli, who gained 80 points (25 wins, five draws, three losses), widened the gap with the 2nd place Lazio (64 points) to 16 points, claiming the championship trophy regardless of the results of the remaining five games.

Kim, who contributed to the team's victory in his first season with Napoli, put his name as the first Korean player to reach the top of Serie A. Kim Min-jae, who made his professional debut in Jeonbuk in the domestic professional football K-League, wore the Napoli uniform in July of last year after playing in the Chinese and Turkish leagues. Kim Min-jae is the third Korean player to appear on the Serie A stage, following Ahn Jung-hwan, who played for AC Perugia, and Lee Seung-woo, who played for Verona.

Kim Min-jae, who played full-time against Udinese the same day, posted on his social media after the match, “We are the Italian champions. I am happy and honored to be with you in this historic moment.”

Kim Min-jae logged an impressive performance in his debut season in Serie A and helped Napoli score the championship. Center back Kim played as a starter in 32 of the team's 33 league games this season and kept the defensive line strong. Napoli conceded 23 goals in 33 matches, which is the least among all 20 teams in Serie A.

The sports media “The Athletic” covered the news of Napoli’s victory on Friday and cited Kim’s four-back defense line as a center back as one of the driving forces behind the victory. “The four-back bravely boosted the line and made many contributions in waging offenses,” the media said.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com