I met Ki Sung-yueng. I can see him at the stadium every week, but this time I took the time to visit the training ground. He said that he was close to reaching his 200th game with his current team, FC Seoul, so he wanted to take a short trip back in time. The journey was not only towards the past, but also towards the future.

When he plays in the 30th round of the K League against Gwangju FC on the 17th, he will complete his 200th game appearance wearing the Seoul uniform. Ki Sung-yueng, who achieved the milestone of 500 professional games last July, played about 40% of them in Seoul. He played 93 games in Seoul before moving to Europe through a transfer to Celtic FC in early 2010, and completed 100 games after returning in 2020, and is on the verge of setting the record of 200 appearances three years later. (*If he plays against Gwangju, he will have played in 508 professional games and 200 games for Seoul.) On the

morning of the 13th, he visited GS Champions Park located in Guri, Gyeonggi-do and met Ki Sung-yong. He came to work early in the morning, finished individual exercise and a meeting with the coaching staff, and was greeted with a friendly face. When I told him that he had already played 200 games, he laughed and said that a lot of things came to mind.

Since it was my first conversation in a long time outside of the stadium, I wanted to talk about various topics. I’m the kind of person who likes to talk about soccer, so if I had enough time, I would have liked to talk about a variety of things, such as current European soccer trends, recent national team issues, and the K-League tactical landscape, but it was impossible because I had training ahead of me. And since this was an interview commemorating his 200th game appearance in Seoul, he focused on his soccer life as a ‘Seoul person’, his feelings about the team, and the current situation.

The following is the full interview with Ki Sung-yong.

He is close to appearing in his 200th game for Seoul. How do you feel?
When I returned to Korea, it was my 100th game. With the 200th game already approaching, I feel like I’ve played a lot. Of all the teams I have played for so far, FC Seoul has played the most games. I think playing for Sangam is a great privilege for me, and I think about a lot of things.

I played 162 games for Swansea, but it is a club where I played a lot more than that. What does the team Seoul mean?
It was the first team that paved the way for my soccer career. I am grateful to the team that helped me debut and build my career so far. It’s been really long. The training ground and stadium are all the same, but it seems like only I have changed. I shared the joys and sorrows of this team. I am precious and grateful, and this is the team that made my soccer life.

Do you remember your debut match against Daegu FC on March 4, 2007?
Of course I remember the game, but I don’t remember exactly what I played. I was very nervous. The emotions I felt back then are still vivid. That feeling when you enter the stadium and warm up. At that time, I really wanted to run. It was such a desperate and precious time that I said I wanted to run in Sangam just once.

During his debut game, Lee Eul-yong was in the midfield. Currently, he plays with his son Tae-seok Lee. (The four starting midfielders were Ki Sung-yong, Kim Han-yoon, Lee Min-seong, and Lee Eul-yong)
I feel like a lot of time has passed. When I first went to winter training after becoming a pro, my roommate was senior Lee Eul-yong. At that time, I could only breathe. I was just breathing, but he made me feel comfortable and joked with me a lot. The age difference between me and my senior back then is the same age difference between Tae-seok and me now. Compared to back then, Taeseok seems to approach me first. amazing. Time flies and I feel like this day is really coming.

I couldn’t play the first year I joined in 2006.
I think the first year was actually the most difficult time in my soccer life. There were so many good players that there was no room for him. It was actually difficult when I first came to the pros because there were many young players who had already come to the pros and honed their skills. So he really put in a lot of effort. I think this was the time when he put in the most effort in his football career. It was a time when he grew up with a lot of frustration. (He was only 17 years old, wasn’t he?) Age didn’t matter when he became a pro. All players compete. Unlike in middle and high school, only good players participated in the game. It didn’t matter whether I was young or old.

You have a lot of affection for Seoul, but what was it like when your plan to return to Seoul was canceled in the winter of 2019?
After going through various situations, I had the option of coming to Korea at that time. He was contemplating whether it was right for him to return to Korea and had the same thought back then in Seoul. From my perspective, my physical condition was a bit difficult due to my knee injury, and I thought that if my return was delayed, there would be less of what I could show the fans. So, I had a strong desire to return to Seoul. There were some situations in the middle that were not good for the fans, but I thought that if I were to return to Korea, it would be right to play with the Seoul team where I started my soccer career. At that time, many fans cheered us on and showed us their love through social media. I thought I should come here and show my good side. Although the process was not smooth, FC Seoul always had a place in my heart. The fans may have been disappointed, but I was the most disappointed. Those who knew my sincerity would have known my heart, but there were many fans who did not know my sincerity. I was able to tell people around me, but I couldn’t explain it to everyone. Anyway, I was happy to come to Seoul and play many games over the three years, and I was happy to receive support from the fans.

Jin-gyu, who I played with, became acting manager?
Now that you are the director, I call you director. When he returned to Seoul, he was contacted by acting manager Kim Jin-gyu. He kept in touch (he told me to come back). He returned, but the team’s performance was not good and he had a difficult time. So I told the acting director, ‘It’s hard because of my brother. He said things like ‘I trusted you and came here’ (laughter). He is really close to me. He is the older brother I have relied on since I was young, and he is the older brother I relied on a lot while sharing the same room with me when I was representing the Olympic team. The fact that a brother like that is acting as director means that I am also much older. Acting Manager Kim Jin-gyu is a person who loves FC Seoul more than anyone else, so I think he leads the team well with a sense of responsibility.

Are there any changes to your plans as a leader after retirement?
I’m worried. I haven’t decided yet, but of course I’m taking leadership classes. What I feel these days is that if I become a coach, I can help the players become good players or bad players. I have to take responsibility, have people trust me, follow me, and help me improve, but can I really do well in that aspect? I think like this. In fact, anyone can talk a lot in soccer. For example, when the economy is bad, we talk about various things such as this is the problem and that is the problem. A coach is a person who clearly identifies the problem, instills a solution, and allows the players to follow his or her ideas. I’m wondering if I can do that. It’s not just about having a good idea. The players have to follow that idea, have full trust in it, and when that idea is wrong, you have to inject another idea. That’s not an easy task. So I worry a lot. I want to try it. I want to start off as a coach. If you decide that it suits your aptitude and can provide abilities to the players, you can do it in depth, but if you think your abilities are lacking, you can just end up with experience.

It may be a funny question, but when he becomes a coach later, he is a former star player and coach. So, is there something that players are more likely to follow?
What is more important is how much the players will believe and follow the idea on the pitch. I follow this when it goes well, but when it doesn’t work and the results don’t come out, I think that’s the most important moment. When I fail, I think the hardest thing is whether to push forward with the same idea or give new ideas to the players and quickly find another way. When the players are not confused and come up with a tactical strategy, they can harass the opponent, and if it works well, the players naturally gain trust. However, when things don’t go well, the key is how much you can minimize the anxiety and uncertainty that comes from it. I think that’s the director’s ability.

Are you planning to take leadership classes again this year?
Yes. This year I get an A.

You promised to meet with coach Pep Guardiola in the winter?
There are many directors I would like to meet when I have time, so I am contacting them. But since you are busy, I think I will have to look at the situation. I have a lot of questions, so there are a lot of things I want to ask. Tactical things, team management things… It may not be the right answer, but I think it will be helpful to talk about what is right and what is good to accept and learn through the experiences of coaches who have been leaders for a long time.

But do you have a retirement plan?
I’m always thinking about retirement. (Are there talks about renewing the contract with Seoul?) Nothing concrete has been done yet. I’m thinking about a lot of things, and there are a lot of things to consider. I’m thinking about that a lot.

Do you have any plans like ‘I’ll do it in a few years’?
I do not know. Don’t you know what people do? I’m thinking about what to prepare for when I retire. I haven’t decided yet how long I will have to play soccer.

His performance and physical condition still look good.
The soccer part is not a big problem. My physical condition is fine, but that is not the only factor to consider. Whether it’s about motivating me or the team’s situation… Because I am a senior, I don’t think I should interfere with the team. I am worried about many things.

I heard your daughter told you to run until you’re 40?
That’s what you say, but wouldn’t your dad be happy if you did something else? (laugh)

What do you think are the differences in systems and environments between the K-League and the European leagues?
Of course, these are the best stages and players in the world, but I think comparison is impossible. Various environmental aspects are disappointing. I hope it improves a lot. I think the awareness of the stadium, training ground, players, coaches, and front office needs to improve a lot. The moment you become satisfied, you have no choice but to regress, so you must move in a direction that will allow you to continue to develop. It must be put into practice, and of course, financial aspects may be needed. It’s better than before, but there are still some shortcomings. I hope that the K-League can become a stage where it grows more globally by making long-term plans rather than short-term plans.

Let’s also talk about the players’ play.토토사이트 I’ve been watching the K-League for nearly 30 years, but recently, for example, the frequency of players actively attempting or succeeding in 1-on-1 breakthroughs seems to have decreased compared to before. What do you think about this technical aspect?
To agree. The most disappointing part is that there are not many players who make a difference. There is a saying that ‘the K-League is a battle of foreign players’, but Korean players lack the ability to make a difference and to overwhelm their opponents when they do make a difference. For example, if you look at the Premier League, there are always two or three players who make a difference to the team. This is true for any team, whether in the top or bottom. Korean players should play that role, but since foreign players are doing it, there seems to be some disappointment about their performance. Only when there are more players who can make one-on-one breakthroughs or create cracks can the game be more aggressive, score more goals, and produce more creative plays, but I also feel very disappointed in that aspect.

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