FC Seoul coach Ahn Ik-soo (58) kept a close eye on Kim Joo-sung (22) during a winter training camp in Thailand and asked him “why you’re in Thailand.” Kim’s answer was a call-up to the national team in less than five months.

Kim Joo-sung re-wears the Taeguk marker in an A match in June. After catching the eye of national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann, Kim was named to the 23-man roster for the matches against Peru on June 16 and El Salvador on June 20. It’s been more than a year since he was named to the squad after participating in the East Asian Football Confederation (EAFF) E-1 Championship (East Asian Cup) last year, which was comprised of domestic teams.

Compared to last year, it is a little more meaningful. He was named to the elite national team, which includes overseas players. Over the course of a year, Kim has definitely changed. He returned to Seoul after his military service and has been a consistent starter this season. He has become one of head coach Ahn Ik-soo’s most trusted resources, providing stability to a backline that has been plagued by youthful fatigue.

Kim Joo-sung is an elite resource who made his first-team debut through Seoul’s youth teams Osanjoong and Osango. He made his K League debut as a teenager in 2019 and has since played 59 games. However, he didn’t have a season where he was a solid starter. He was more of a “good enough” prospect.

Ahn’s words changed that. “I hope the reason you are in Thailand is to dream big,” he said. As a way to push them further, he gave them a mission to make the national team. Ahn motivated Kim by saying, “If you become a national team member, you will be able to produce another plan.”

Kim strived to fulfill Ahn’s assignment, and from the sidelines, Ahn said, “You put in a lot of effort. The time he spends on soccer has increased considerably compared to other players. His mindset towards soccer is also very good.”

June was a memorable time for Kim Joo-sung. Following his call-up to the national team, he wore the captain’s armband for Seoul and led the team against 토토사이트 Incheon United in the 17th round of the Hana OneQ K League 2023 on June 7. It’s a testament to Ahn’s trust in the youngster, even though he was left out of the starting lineup along with the likes of Kim Sang-hyeop, Osmar, and Kim Jin-ya.

Ahn beamed at Kim Joo-sung and gave him another task. “Even if (Kim) Min-jae and (Kim) Young-kwon come back, I want you to make a place for yourself in the national team,” he advised, adding, “If you dream higher in the national team now, you will improve even more during your time in Seoul.”

In response, Kim Joo-sung said, “The national team is an honorable place where everyone wants to be. It was possible thanks to the help of my teammates,” and “I learned a lot of defensive tactics from the coach. I will do well as I learned.”

It’s not just Kim Joo-sung that makes Ahn smile. Recently, Seoul has been producing a lot of national team players. In addition to Kim, Hwang Eui-jo and Na Sang-ho are headed to Klismann, while Lee Tae-seok and Lee Han-beom are on the roster of Hwang Sun-hong as they prepare for the Hangzhou Asian Games. The U-20 national team, led by Kim Eun-jung, already has Kang Sung-jin and Lee Seung-jun.

“I’m worried about having more than five representatives, but I think they’re doing a good job of developing,” Ahn said. As for Kang Sung-jin and Lee Seung-joon, who are currently helping Kim Eun-jung-ho to reach the top four, Ahn said, “I’m worried that it would be a burden to contact them. So I’m cheering them on with my heart,” and “I woke up at 2 a.m. to watch the Nigeria game. I liked it while clapping alone,” he laughed.

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