Top striker plays one game at a timeKim Do-hun is at the top of his game. After scoring three goals ― a hat trick ― against Incheon United, Kim broke the record for scoring the most goals ― 113 over 251 matches ― in professional K-league history. The forward for Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, Kim, 35, also scored the most goals in 2000 and 2003, receiving the most valuable player award that year. He has become so popular that Seongnam manager Kim Hak-beom has instituted a system of interview deadlines for his star player.
When the JoongAng Ilbo finally got its chance, we found Kim to be a conversational guy with strong opinions. As a child, Kim dreamed of being a judge. He was a good student, he said, before deciding to devote his life to playing soccer. Kim’s ambition and competitiveness was clearly at play from a young age.
These days Kim has a new rule he follows ― always leave work at the same time. After training, he tries to arrive home at 8 p.m. at the latest, in order to see his six-month-old daughter. Even in the middle of the interview, he said, “I need to hurry to see my daughter before she goes to bed.” Kim’s daughter has just started to crawl, and when she smiles at him, he is enthralled.
Asked whether he intends to play soccer until his daughter can cheer for him, he shook his head and said, “Please write more stories about me. She will grow up and read the stories and realize what sort of person I was.”
Kim married a year ago, which is considered rather late for his age. He met his wife in 1999, when he went to see a friend of his father ― and met the man’s beautiful daughter. The two became good friends. Several years later he realized he was in love with her and proposed. In March 2004, he put a ring on her finger and abruptly said he wanted to live with her. Although she did not answer straight away, at least she did not seem negative, he remembers.
Kim plays as a forward, but he wants to be remembered as “Seongnam Ilhwa’s Kim Do-hun” rather than “striker Kim Do-hun.” Kim said that the K-league is where star players and unknown teammates play together to build the cornerstone of Korean soccer. Fans praise him as one of the best strikers in Korea. At the same time, he has also been criticized for missing too many chances while competing in overseas matches and only playing well on the domestic pitch.
Kim participated in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and the World Cup games in France in 1998, and bridles at the criticism, calling it unfair.
“Many fans say we are unskilled when we miss chances, but when foreign players miss, they just say that they were unlucky,” he noted.
Concentration is the most important requirement to be a good striker, said Kim. “Strikers need to focus in order not to miss opportunities in front of the box. For that reason, strikers need to build their stamina to maintain focus, which can easily become blurred by fatigue in the second half of the game.”
Patience is another virtue of a good striker. “When players are blocked in the midfield, they tend to hurry out of frustration. However, even if players have no chance to shoot, they should wait and be patient until the end of the game.”
Kim thinks that Lee Dong-guk of the Pohang Steelers is the best striker in the league. With regard to Park Chu-young of FC Seoul, Kim said “He seems to really enjoy the game.”
The most frequent question he faces these days is regarding his eventual retirement. He readily admits that his body is not the same as it once was.
“First, I will play until the end of the season,” he said. Kim is known for making plans just one year in advance. “Who knows what is going to happen after this year?”
Injuries have caused Kim to be excluded from the national team at times in the past. Someday, he plans to retire and learn about coaching in the United Kingdom. But he hopes that won’t be for a long time.
by Lee Choong-hyoung