South Korean left-back legend Lee Young-pyo looks back at the 2002 World Cup stating how it changed the image of Asian players.
South Korean left-back Lee Young-pyo visited Hong Kong as one of the players in the star-stud Dortmund Legend team. After the match, he revealed how much he enjoyed his time with former team members and opponents and shared with fans about his latest updates.
One of Asia’s best ever left-back, Lee said that the 2002 World Cup was an important milestone in altering the image of Asian footballer and his life. The 42 year-old defensive legend plays badminton once a week to help maintain his body in good shape, almost as fit as when he was still a professional player.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup held at Japan and Korea marked the emergence of Asian football on to the world stage. When the South Korean team ended in fourth place in the tournament, it shocked the entire world and remained the best record of Asian teams in FIFA World Cup to date.
“The 2002 World Cup holds a special place and is the most important page in the history of South Korean football. Looking back at 2002, every South Korean took to the streets to support the national team, every club were looking for good players, including Asian players. From that year’s World Cup onwards, European Clubs began looking for potential players in Asian and bring them to the West,” said Lee.
After a stellar performance in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Lee followed his national team manager Guus Hiddink and teammate Park Ji-sung to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands to begin his professional career in Europe. Lee subsequently played for Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund, Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal and Canadian club Vancouver Whitecaps prior to his retirement in 2013.
“It was a watershed moment in the history of South Korean football and since then opened up a completely different world in the football scene. It changed the South Korean’s attitude on football; they started to build more fields and encouraged development of K League. It was an important milestone to the history of the world and Asian football history and myself too.
“Europeans encourage their children to play football. But Asian parents focus on the academic results of their children, they want them to be doctors or lawyers. Be it culture, history or physique, it is more difficult for Asians to develop a career in football.”
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