East Asia Korea

‘Lion King’ Lee Dong-gook: Coach told me to play defense only [against Ulsan]

Mihyun Chung

Football Tribe Korea

It does not sound very positive when a forward is told to play defense only. But K League’s legend Lee Dong-gook did what he had to do: defense.

Lee played for 15 minutes against Ulsan Hyundai on 16 Aug. The match was especially important as Jeonbuk Hyundai was ranked second, two points behind Ulsan.

As the game ended with Jeonbuk’s 3:0 victory, the defending champion is now on top of the league, one point ahead of Ulsan. As Jeonbuk started the season in an unstable manner, falling short of fans’ expectation, taking the lead was especially meaningful. In addition, it was the team’s 400th victory in the league.

Lee came in on 80 minutes.

“Coach Choi told me to go and play defense only,” explained Lee. Of course, defense he was referring to is pressing in the opposite side as a forward, not to play against the opponent’s forwards.

“I made a good attempt in a critical moment, too. It was short but satisfying.

“I have been playing for Jeonbuk for more than ten years. When I first came here, there were not many audiences. But as you can see, Jeonju has become a football city.

“As the team grew, fans grew as well. Thanks to fans, we managed to set a record [of having 400th victory in the league].”