“I have done various activities for three years after retirement, but the last place to be is soccer.” Lee Dong-gook, the ‘legendary’ of Korean soccer, talked about three years after retirement, expressing his will to return to the soccer world someday.

With 344 goals in 845 matches, Lee Dong-gook is a legend of Korean soccer with a phenomenal record. After joining the Pohang Steelers in 1998, he made an appearance like Haesung, and in the same year, he was selected as a final member of the French World Cup squad after catching the eye of Cha Bum-keun. After making an impression with his bold mid-range shot in the second group match against the Netherlands, he emerged as the best star in Korea.

However, life in soccer has been like a rollercoaster ride. He failed to play at the 2002 World Cup Korea-Japan, and later became a key striker for the Korean national team by recovering his peak skills once again through the military enlistment, but failed due to a ruptured cruciate ligament ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He moved to Middlesbrough in the English Premier League in 2007, but failed to play, and returned to Korea as Seongnam Ilhwa played in the uniform.

It was yet another setback. As Seongnam’s coach Shin Tae-yong took over, he announced his departure from veteran players such as Lee Dong-gook and Kim Sang-sik, and eventually had to leave the team. However, Lee didn’t give up. He entered his third heyday when he joined Jeonbuk Hyundai in 2009, and during his 12-year career until 2020, he collected a whopping 10 trophies, including eight K-League titles and the Asian Champions League title. He also scored 33 goals in 105 A-match games as a member of the national team, and also participated in the 2010 World Cup.

While playing as an active player, he scored 344 goals in 845 games. In the K-League, he scored 228 goals, was the second in overall assists with 77 assists, and posted 305 offensive points, ranking first in his career. Lee Dong-gook, who created the great dynasty of Jeonbuk Hyundai, but his soccer life was not always smooth. Lee wrote a second autobiography including his life after his retirement.

Lee Dong-guk, a legend-turned-writer, delivered his story at a press conference to commemorate the publication of “No Choice to Know the Results” at a cafe located in Jeongdong, Jung-gu, Seoul, on the afternoon of the 27th.

Q: Why did you rewrite your autobiography after retirement?

I wrote an autobiography when I was a player, but I played for another seven years since then. I wanted to talk about my life after retirement, and I wrote a new book. This time, I wanted to design a cover so that anyone could carry a book without any burden. Usually, autobiographies contain pictures of characters, and I wanted to make a better cover.

Q: I started playing soccer when I was in the fourth grade. The youngest member, Xi’an, also plays soccer. How do you feel?

What I can say for sure is that Xi’an does better when looking at his skills in the fourth grade. I think playing with a soccer ball since childhood helped. Honestly, I want Xi’an not to play soccer. Because I know how hard it is. Also, you may be told that DNA is good because your father is Lee Dong-guk. I also think that my efforts will be covered by me. I told Cha Du-ri that it was difficult to live as Cha Bum-geun’s son when he retired, but I sympathize. Still, I plan to support Xi’s dream.

  • 1998 France World Cup record for youngest player

Now it seems natural to graduate from high school and become a professional, but it wasn’t at the time. It wasn’t the usual way to go. At that time, I thought I wanted to go to college while watching the friendly match, but I chose to join the professional team to grow into a soccer player. As I competed with my seniors at the age of 20, I felt that I was growing without realizing it. After adapting to the professional league, I joined the national team. I was lucky. Hwang Sun-hong was given the opportunity when he moved to Japan, and coach Cha Bum-keun made the shortlist. At that time, I saw it through the newspaper, and I remember being surprised as well. As a soccer player, I was able to gain a lot.

  • Playing against Netherlands

I was a player that ordinary people did not know well enough to say that the caster was Kim Dong-guk. There were only three people who welcomed me at the airport. I was a big fan of Pohang. While seeing off Hwang Sun-hong and Hong Myung-bo, they also saw me off. Life has changed 180 degrees before and after going to France. Since coach Cha Bum-keun was replaced during the tournament, I thought the domestic atmosphere would be bad, but many people cheered for me. My soccer life has completely changed.

Q: There was also controversy over excessive labor while moving back and forth between the adult and youth teams. Looking back on this period?

After the World Cup in France, he played between youth, Olympics, adult national team, and his team. My knee was not in good condition, but I had a strong desire to play as a player. Now that I think about it, I think I would have made the same choice. I think I would have played with the injury because I wanted to play as a soccer player. Now, the schedule of the national team and the team is divided, but that was not the case at the time. I feel very sorry that I did not contribute to my team, Pohang. I also think it would have been nice if there was someone around me to give advice. 스포츠토토

Q: You said joining the sangmu service is a turning point in your life?

Of course, I thought I would participate in the 2002 World Cup, but I couldn’t. Starting from the 2002 World Cup, my performance was at the rock bottom. I think I was loved more than what I had. I wanted to give everything up and start the military again. I felt ashamed to see other sports players put so much effort into the quadrennial Olympic Games. I think I overworked myself while socializing with sports players. That is how I prepared for the 2006 World Cup. When I first joined the military like a defeated soldier, but when I was discharged from the military in 2005, I became Korea’s No. 1 striker. I don’t think I lost my stamina until the last minute of the second half. I prepared so hard that I didn’t have any difficulty until the 90 minutes.

  • Two months before the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he suffered a torn cruciate ligament. How did you get through it?

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