Thank you for your hard work.”, “I’m sorry.”, “Please do more.”
Fans receiving Daegu FC Lee Geun-ho’s autograph all said the same thing. 38-year-old veteran striker Lee Geun-ho is saying goodbye to the field at the end of this season. It’s been about 20 years since his professional debut.
Lee Geun-ho, who made his debut in Incheon, moved to Daegu in 2007 and his football career blossomed. He scored 23 goals and 9 assists in two seasons. He was at his peak, starting from the K-League Best 11 to being selected for the national team. He later played for several teams, including Ulsan and Jeonbuk, and won the K-League trophy and the Asian Football Confederation Champions League trophy. His wide range of activities, excellent decision-making skills, and even altruistic play. Even after returning to Daegu in 2021, Lee Geun-ho continued to contribute to the team. He led the team to Final A as vice-captain this season. However, his football career ends at the end of this season.
Lee Geun-ho said, “I didn’t make a decision at one point or in one game. I’ve been thinking about it since the beginning of the season. While playing in the early part of this season, I thought, ‘I want to retire while my body is still good, before it gets worse.’ I thought about it. On the contrary, I feel grateful that I can decide to retire. I saw many players retire because they couldn’t find a team at the end. I thought that I wanted to decide my own end when I could play a role. I did. I thought it would be this year. If I definitely decide to play next year, I can play. However, I am no longer a player who improves or develops like the younger players, so I would rather let others talk about my regrets than look ahead. “I want to retire sometime,” he explained.
Many players stopped him. Daegu coach Choi Won-kwon tried to dissuade him from retiring three times. However, Lee Geun-ho’s resolve could not be broken.
“A lot of players tried to stop me. They didn’t believe me, and there were a lot of players who said they were disappointed. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked, ‘Are you injured?’ But that wasn’t the case at all. The most important thing is motivation. But motivation is Even in terms of performance, I felt different from before. I am not disappointed. This year as well, throughout my career as a player, I have never wasted a single game. I gave it my all and it was a player career with no regrets, so I am okay. “
Although he decided to retire from Daegu, Lee Geun-ho is grateful to all the teams he played for. ‘Journeyman’ Lee Geun-ho changed teams a total of 11 times, including overseas expansion. Incheon United, Daegu FC, J-League Jubilo Iwata, Gamba Osaka, Ulsan Hyundai, Sangju Sangmu, Qatar Stars League El Jaish SC, Jeonbuk Hyundai, Jeju United, Gangwon FC, Ulsan Hyundai returned to Daegu.
“There is no team I am not thankful for. I had a really hard time in Incheon for three years, but that period was a time that trained me. I remember it because it was my first team. Not to mention Daegu. Then the two Japanese teams I played for. You are still sending me many messages of support. I am so grateful. I have only good memories from Ulsan, Sangju, Jeonbuk, Jeju and Gangwon. Fortunately, although I was sad when we met and parted ways, I don’t think it was ever bad. Fans, club officials, and fellow players I played with. “I’m fortunate that I have many good memories, including the coaches.”
■ “Pain became luck.” … For Lee Geun- ho, from falling off a horse to being a commentator,
the World Cup represents his turbulent soccer life. Lee Geun-ho emerged as the crown prince of Heo Jung-moo by scoring three goals in the final qualifying round for the 2010 South African World Cup. However, even though he participated in the European training camp, he was left out of the final list. The reason was the goal silence that lasted for about a year. Former coach Heo Jung-moo said at the time, ‘He may have been able to take into account his contributions to the national team. However, he explained the reason by saying, “It has been over a year since the national team was underperforming.”
Lee Geun-ho said, “The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was my first challenge. I really thought I was going to the World Cup. At the time, I thought I could go, but I failed. So the shock was so great. “Looking back, I think that attitude may have made me a little lazy,” he recalled. Geun-ho
Lee gritted his teeth even more. Finally, four years later, he was named to the Sangju Sangmu team at the World Cup in Brazil. He scored a goal against Russia. It was a goal that gave the opposing goalkeeper the so-called ‘grease hand’ stigma. The national team was eliminated in the round of 16, but Lee Geun-ho was in full swing with one goal and one assist. “The Brazil World Cup was a little more special
. As I scored a goal there, it became a really meaningful World Cup for me. It wasn’t a great goal. Basically, players know the feeling the moment they kick. It wasn’t a good feeling, but it turned out to be a goal, and now I can talk about it with a smile. I think it’s fun because there are so many stories to tell. Even though it’s not a great goal, it means a lot to me. Could it be that the pain before that was a result of luck? That’s what I think.”
There was pain at the 2018 Russia World Cup as well. Lee Geun-ho, who was preparing for his final World Cup as Son Heung-min’s attack partner, suffered a knee injury. He was diagnosed as needing six weeks of rest due to a ruptured knee ligament. Although he was unable to participate, he was unable to participate. I visited the Russian stage as a commentator for KBS. A new world opened up for me.
“It has a special meaning because I experienced the World Cup as a commentator. There is a World Cup where players fight fiercely inside the stadium, but I also realized that there are fans who enjoy it like a festival outside. It was fun to watch and talk about the game from a third party perspective, something I had no experience with.
I think I had a lot of good experiences at the World Cup.” ■ The second chapter of my life begins with raising the ‘Grandson of the Sun’… I am a happy player.
Lee Geun-ho has the nickname ‘Son of the Sun’, which is taken from the Daegu club emblem. He held his son, the ‘grandson of the sun’, in his arms last February. Lee Geun-ho is about to start the second chapter of his life with parenting. I also try to imagine pleasant things. Lee Jeong-hoo, the son of LG coach Lee Jong-beom, the ‘Son of the Wind’ in professional baseball, is nicknamed the ‘Grandson of the Wind’, and Lee Seung-min, the son of Samsung head coach Lee Byeong-gyu, the ‘Red Coma’, is nicknamed the ‘Red Clay Colt.’ His son inherited his father’s nickname. If my son Yuan, born in February of this year, also starts playing soccer, he will be the grandson of the sun.
“It’s a very distant story. He’s still crawling. If he grows up healthy and likes soccer and wants to play it again, I plan to actively support him. Just the thought of being called ‘the grandson of the sun’ by fans makes me feel good.”
Now Lee Geun-ho prepares for his final five games. The goal is to advance to the AFC Champions League. Daegu finished the 33rd round of regular play in 5th place. To qualify for the AFC Champions League, a team must finish in at least 3rd place, which is 5 points behind Gwangju FC in 3rd place. I am determined to give my all in the last five games and give a gift to the fans.메이저놀이터
“Daegu needs to work harder to advance to the Asian Champions League. So, I want to improve our players a little more and finish in a more meaningful way. So that we can win each game, and if Daegu is at a higher level and we all smile together, “The remaining goal is to be able to finish it.”
Many people call his soccer life full of twists and turns, but Lee Geun-ho says he is happy. And I hope fans remember it that way too.
“I was very happy. I never thought I would get to this point. To be honest, my goal was to go to a professional team, and then my goal was to play for a professional team. When I was in Incheon, I looked at my brothers who earned 100 million won a year and thought, ‘ I remember thinking, ‘That’s the number of my dreams.’ To be able to retire while being blessed like this makes me happy in itself. I received so much undeserved love. Everyone tells me that you had a lot of difficult times, but for me, it’s happiness. “I had a lot more time playing. I want to end my career as a happy soccer player.”