National midfielder Lee Soon-min played his first match since returning to South Korea. He spoke to the press about what happened.
At 2 p.m. on the 17th, the Hana OneQ K League 2023 Round 30 match between FC Seoul and Gwangju FC took place at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul. The game was won by Gwangju. Gwangju held on to Heo Yul’s goal early in the first half to secure their third place finish. Lee Soon-min started the game again and fought for Gwangju’s victory.
After the game, Lee appeared in the mixer zone at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in a cheerful mood. He said he was still jetlagged, but the experience of traveling to Europe with his national team was invaluable. Here is the full interview with Lee.
Q: How did you feel about the game against Seoul?
“We didn’t have a win against Seoul this season, so I thought it would be tough because it was an away game. In the end, I’d like to emphasize that we got three points.”
Q: How have you been adjusting to the jet lag after traveling to Europe?
“I think I’m waking up and playing in the early morning now. It feels like 3 a.m. But I’m grateful for the experience. I’ve had one experience, so I’ve got to have more new experiences. I think I can grow as a player, so I’m taking it positively. I sympathize with the players (coming from Europe). It was hard in England, and it was hard when I came to Korea. But I’ve heard a lot of stories, and I think it’s more about the mindset than it is about the body, because the body is what you think it is. I was tired today, and it was hard, but I tried not to think about that, and I just prepared and thought, “I’m just grateful to have this experience,” and I tried to stay positive and get through it.”
Q: It must have made you want to go back to the national team even more.
“I have to go. If they call me, I have to run from Gwangju (laughs).”
Q: What was it like to spend time with Son Heung-min on the national team? It must have been weird.
“Everything was just an episode. I went down for breakfast and Heung-min was eating in front of me. He’s the captain, and he took really good care of me since I was new. He told me that if I needed anything, I could always talk to him, so I was really grateful. Also, (Cho) Hyun-woo took care of me a lot, and I got close to (Kang) Sang-woo, and (Ahn) Hyun-beom and (Jung) Seung-hyun are the same age, so it was easy for me to get along with them. They helped me get used to it when I first got there, so it was fun to get to know them all.”
Q: I assume you also had time to talk to Jürgen Klinsmann, the head coach of the Korean men’s national team.
“Yes. I had a face-to-face meeting with him, and we talked about a lot of different things, and I got to hear what he was looking for in me and why he picked me, and he said, “I want you to bring character,” and he said, “I want you to be rough on the pitch, I want you to press the opponent, I want you to be annoying, and I want you to show that.” He said the national team needs that, and that’s something that I’m confident in, so I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to show that a little bit more.”
Q: From the looks of it, you were positioned higher up than usual for the national team. Was that where coach Jürgen Klinsmann wanted you to be?
“No, I don’t think so, because at the time (Hwang) Inbum came in after not having a good preseason, so it was expected that he might not be able to play the full 90 minutes, so I came in in the second half, not completely in (Inbum’s) position, but I think that’s what I did. I think (coach Jürgen Klinsmann) wanted me to be more stable, to help more on the defensive side, to open up the game. It was an unfamiliar position for me, but I’m so grateful and honored to have been given the opportunity, and I think no matter where you go, and in fact, in Gwangju, no matter where you go, if you’re a professional and a representative, there’s no excuses. The moment you step on the pitch, you have to catch what (the coaches) want and show it on the field, and I think I’ll try to do a good job to help them.”
Q: Jürgen Klinsmann was on hand for the Seoul-Gwangju game, was it a ritual?
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a ritual, but I tried to keep it as low-key as possible, because I’m playing for a team called Gwangju, and it’s important for the team to win. After all, the reason why I was able to go to the national team is because Gwangju is good. I tried to focus on the essence, to dedicate myself to the team’s victory, to play, and I thought about that a lot.”
Q: Before the game, Gwangju head coach Lee Jung-hyo said in a nuanced way that Soon-min seemed to have been reset (?).
“I think there’s a part of me that didn’t continue what I was doing in Gwangju because I went to a new team, and the players trained very hard during the A-match break, and I think I was missing something that I needed to adjust to, so I think that’s why he said that.”
Q: What sets you apart from other players on your path to the national team?
“Um… I don’t know what it is. I think it’s multiplayer, you have to play the way the team wants you to play, and in this call-up I’ve been training for the first time, I’ve been talking to the coach and catching a little bit of what direction the team wants to go in, and I think if I get another chance in the future, I’ll be able to show that better, and I think that’s what I need to do to help the team.” 카지노사이트
Q: What were some of the things that Jürgen Klinsmann did differently?
“First of all, he emphasized energy, and what he wanted from me was to be a link in the midfield. When we’re transitioning from attack to defense, when we’re defending to attack, when we’re building up from the back to the front, he emphasized that he wanted me to do a good job in the middle of the field. If I do a good job in the middle, I think the team as a whole can play a good game, and I think that’s something I’m going to have to focus on a lot in the future.”
Q: Towards the end of the game, it seems like you and Seoul’s Ki Sung-yueng had a bit of a misunderstanding.
“During the game, what was rough became mutual action, and I made a mistake in that area because I was overdoing it. I apologized again after the game, and thankfully he accepted my apology, and he also said a lot of good things about me. I think I need to show more maturity in the future.”
Q: Lee Jung-hyo has been reticent about Gwangju’s goals. What about Lee Soon-min?
“Actually, I don’t want to set any goals, I just want to keep pushing myself to the limit, and to do that, we need to keep winning and playing well game by game. I don’t think anybody expected us to be where we are now, but we’re here, and I don’t think there’s anything that says we can’t go up from here. I think we’ve learned something, we’ve felt something, we’ve learned something about the results that we’ve produced. We can do it, we have confidence. We have to prepare well for our next home game. If we take the result and the process, we’ll end up in a better position. We’re not satisfied, we want to do more, and I think that’s the most important thing right now.”