‘Homeland in front, Glory behind’
is the title of an article I wrote in the JoongAng Ilbo on November 7, 2003. The under-20 youth national team played an exhibition game against Colombia, and Jung Jo-guk, who was at the forefront, scored two goals alone, and goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang saved a 2-0 victory with an amazing save. After the names of the two players, they created a sentence called ‘Glory of the motherland’.
20 years have passed. Jeong Jo-guk retired after scoring 121 goals in 392 K-League games, and is now the head coach of Jeju United. Kim Young-kwang has yet to take off his goalkeeper gloves. He allowed 10 goals in 6 appearances for Seongnam FC, which was relegated to K-League 2 this year. Kim Young-gwang, the oldest active player in the K-League (40 years old), has played in 594 professional games and is ranked second after Kim Byung-ji (retired, 706 games).
Kim Young-kwang is the ‘king of the end of effort’. To overcome the handicap of his short stature (183cm) as a goalkeeper, he developed his quickness and jumping power with a tremendous amount of training. Even now, he is confident that he is second to none in terms of speed. I met him at the Seongnam FC Clubhouse in Jeongja-dong, Bundang-gu, Seongnam. Located between the Hyundai Heavy Industries headquarters and Korea Job World next to the Gyeongbu Expressway, the land price per pyeong is over 100 million won. It is the most expensive clubhouse in the world. Kim Young-kwang laughed, saying, “The soccer field is about 2,000 pyeong, so it’s like exercising on a lawn worth more than 200 billion won. I hope the players feel proud and responsible and work harder.”
As a goalkeeper, he overcame the 183 cm handicap
Q: You played 32 games last year, but this year you play less.
A : “It’s not that I’m in bad shape or injured. Depending on the team’s performance or the manager’s preference, the player’s appointment may change. A player who doesn’t play should have a desire, not a complaint. If you don’t have a strong desire to ‘I have to take that position’, you should quit playing football. I have to prepare with that mindset and seize the opportunity when it comes.”
Q: You are famous for your ‘lost face’ after scoring a goal. What do you think?
A: “It’s regret and self-reproach. I thought, ‘Was it a goal I couldn’t possibly block?’ To the defender, ‘It’s not your fault. If you score a goal, just blame your brother and run more confidently.” If you’re on a good team, you can shine even if you block one or two, and if you’re on a weak team, you can’t win the team even if you block all the balls.”
Q: You said you were of great help to Kim Ji-soo (18, Brentford), who entered England.
A : “You saw a lot of defenders while playing 23 years as a pro. I know the shortcut to grow quickly, so I often tell rookie defenders about it. Jisoo is a player with a good physique (192 cm) and possesses a lot. He encouraged me not to be afraid to make mistakes and to do what I wanted to do. Ji-soo is not at all embarrassed when the striker presses, which becomes a great strength when he builds up (develops the attack). It has a similar style to Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich), but the speed is a bit slower. He’s on a good team, so he can develop his wits and footwork and things more.”
Q: Now, if you go out six more times, you will be playing 600 K-League games.
A : “When I go to the stadium, coaches from opposing teams come and bow to me (laughs). I wondered if it had been this long and there were many twists and turns, but one thing is certain. No matter what era I go back to, I exercised and self-managed to the point that I couldn’t work hard anymore. I have no desire to fill 600 games. If I don’t want to do it anymore, I’ll take off my gloves hotly.”
Q: How on earth did you exercise?
A : “I think he was really crazy. Even if I lie down to sleep, this part doesn’t work well. If I can’t jump, I double jump and hurdle jump, and if I can’t dive, I dive alone. If you can’t see the ball well, go to a dark place on purpose and ask for a kick, and then get hit in the face… . In a way, he was ignorant, but I think he was just trying to overcome himself. That’s why it’s most unfortunate that I was injured.”
Q: What was your biggest injury?
A : “I hurt my calf when I was doing well at Ulsan Hyundai and started to establish myself in the national team. The calf muscle, which could not stand it because of too much exercise, burst 7 to 8 cm. After taking a break for six months, my junior Kim Seung-gyu came up. He did 2,000 double jumps a day from middle school to pro, but he couldn’t do it because of an injury. He switched to lifting weights even at the hospital because he said he wouldn’t be able to play football at all if he overworked himself.
Persuading his parents, ‘If you do well, you’ll become a star like Kim Byung-ji’
Kim Young-kwang’s left fourth finger is bent outward. During training for the 16-year-old national team, he was hit with a strong shot and his bones were crushed. “His fingers went inside as the bone splintered. The team doctor who gave first aid had to operate and put on a cast. The Asian Championships are only a week away. I said it was okay, put a splint on the fractured part, and taped it to the extent that the blood wouldn’t go through. In that state, he played in the tournament and even prevented a penalty shoot-out. He said he went to the hospital after the tournament and was frozen. With the surgery he would be in better shape but he said it would be a bit uncomfortable to move so I left it as it is. He can’t even wear a wedding ring? You can wear it on his right hand. haha.”
Q: What inspired you to become a goalkeeper?
A : “I am from Suncheon Jungang Elementary School, a prestigious soccer school, and I was originally a field player. In 5th grade, the goalkeeper got hurt, so I came forward to do it. At the time, he didn’t play very well (laughs). I’ve come this far because it’s fun and I think I have a talent. Back then, being a goalkeeper was a position that would only cause criticism if you did well, so my parents told me, ‘If you’re going to be a goalkeeper, stop playing soccer’. While talking about Kim Byung-ji, who rose to stardom at the 1998 World Cup in France, I persuaded him by saying, ‘If a goalkeeper does well, he can become a world-class star’.”
Q: There are a lot of people who are cynical about the saying, ‘If you work hard, you can achieve anything’.
A: “It’s because I haven’t tried it. I know because I did it. It worked because I did it. A little bit different from others, after about a year, the difference widens. The body doesn’t lie. When you remember, the reaction comes out automatically. Studying and other things are the same. I debuted as a pro and worked hard for a year and a half in secret, and I became a starting player. War Label is also a good thing. Then, when you exercise for 2-3 hours a day, you should pour 1000%, not 100%. Efficient, strong and bold effort.”
There is a proverb that says ‘a crooked tree protects a good mountain’. It means that what seems a little lacking is actually doing its job. Kim Yeong-gwang played only 17 games for the national team. Later in his career, he moved between weak teams and scored a lot of goals. Still, he steadfastly defends the goal. There are people who love his hard work and dedication.온라인카지노
20 years since ‘Homeland in front, Glory behind’. He presents him with another sentence. ‘A bent tree protects Seonsan, and a bent finger protects Seongnam.’