Lee Chung-Yong's World Cup Dream

  • June 04, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/5edb2

Lee Chung-Yong will represent South Korea at the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer. Here, we look at his journey to the top of the game.

Amid all the stars playing in English football who will be travelling to Brazil to represent their countries at the World Cup, there are some who, while not playing for one of the tournament favourites, will still be hoping to shine on the world stage. Lee Chung-Yong is among them.

The winger is in the South Korean squad for Brazil having played for Bolton Wanderers for the past five years. Chung-Yong was playing in the Premier League until two years ago when Wanderers were relegated to the Championship, but he stayed with the club and attempted to get them promoted. Since then, Bolton have struggled and have had two relatively poor seasons, but the Korean can put those domestic concerns to one side for the summer as he prepares to tackle some of the best players in the world.

South Korea will play Russia, Algeria and Belgium in the group stages in Brazil and will feel they have a reasonable chance of progression to the knockout stages. They have been one of Asia's strongest sides for some time and in 2002, as co-hosts, became the first team from the continent to reach a World Cup semi-final.

As with all stars at the World Cup, Chung-Yong will want to make a real mark on the tournament in the way that Ronaldo managed for Brazil, playing a major part as his country won the trophy in 2002.

Ronaldo, who starred for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as the two Milan clubs in his career, will be mentioned frequently during the tournament, not least because he has joined PokerStars, the world's largest poker site, and says that poker games excite him as football once did.

He will hope that, as the football ends in Brazil, major Brazilian poker tournaments replace it in the public's affections. He was just 17 when he was included in the Brazilian squad for the 1994 World Cup, though it was the tournament four years later, in France, where he first made an impact.

By that time, 1998, Lee Chung-Yong was already making his mark on the sport and he signed for FC Seoul a few years later. He has played for his national side since 2008 when he was used in his country's World Cup qualifying campaign. The winger was one of their key players as they reached their seventh successive World Cup and had a good tournament in South Africa as they qualified for the last 16.

Chung-Yong scored against Argentina in the group stages and he got another as South Korea went out of the tournament, beaten by Uruguay in their round of 16 game. Despite that disappointment, Chung-Yong had been one of his country's best players and he was named as one of the top 10 rising stars of the World Cup by Sports Illustrated.

He has been a regular for South Korea since, and has now made a total of 54 international appearances, scoring six goals. Whether he will remain with Bolton Wanderers next season is another matter. If he is to stay in England he will want to return to the Premier League and there is concern back in South Korea about him playing at a lower level. If he has a good World Cup, he will certainly be a player in demand and a move would be likely.

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