For English clubs, Korea figures into the future

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For English clubs, Korea figures into the future

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With one game left in the current English Premier League season, thoughts are already turning to next season and beyond. Summer transfers to strengthen squads for next season will be near the top of most teams’ priority lists but almost as important will be securing talent for further down the line.

For Liverpool FC, which has just secured the signature of former manager and player Kenny Dalglish on a three-year contract, part of its plan to secure its future involves Korea.

Three weeks ago, Liverpool and Wales legend Ian Rush and eight coaches from the club’s Academy and Community divisions teamed up with the Korean K-League to deliver a seminar on youth football development, closely followed by a Q. and A. focusing on best practices at Academy level.

More than 100 coaches and players from across Korea attended the seminar in Seoul, which formed the first event of a three-day football clinic that saw more than 200 children receive specialized Liverpool FC training - training the Liverpool way.

For 18-year-old Park Hyeon-Ji and 16-year-old Kim Yoon-Soo, the Liverpool way might become a way of life after they were invited for a week-long trial that ended on Saturday.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I was shown the letter saying I was coming here. I was so excited I woke up several times last night and couldn’t wait to get out there,” Kim told www.liverpoolfc.tv, the club’s Web site.

Park also told the Web site how he felt about the opportunity: “It is something I will be able to talk about for the rest of my life and I’ll always be proud of it no matter what the outcome is.”

There is no denying that the Korean and Asian markets are potentially very lucrative and shirt sales alone could bring in huge revenues. But clubs, management and fans especially, won’t tolerate underachieving players no matter how much money they bring in. Football is about results, not marketing.

Park Ji-sung is the benchmark for Korean players in Europe and Manchester United’s popularity in Korea is almost entirely down to him, but Park has proved repeatedly that he deserves his place on merit. If he fell beneath the standards set by the club, Alex Ferguson would not hesitate in shipping him out, despite protests from the marketing department.

Lee Chung-yong, currently at Bolton, is another Korean player who has been talked about for his performances on the pitch since arriving in England almost two years ago. The former FC Seoul player’s name was whispered around the corridors of Anfield last summer and speculation that he may be a target for the Reds again is emerging once more.

But regardless of the potential market in Asia, the marketing departments at Liverpool and Manchester United don’t choose which players will play. So if Park Hyeon-Ji, Kim Yoon-Soo or Lee Chung-yong are to make it at Liverpool, or in the Premier league, they will have to make it on merit.

Liverpool fans in Korea will have a chance to see the team this summer, as the club announced in April that Seoul will form part of the club’s summer tour with a match against FC Seoul tentatively scheduled for mid-July.


By Rob McGovern [robguv@gmail.com]


한글 관련 기사 [OSEN]

리버풀, 한국 청소년 선수 2명 입단 테스트

잉글랜드 프리미어리그의 리버풀이 2명의 한국 청소년 선수를 입단 테스트하며 큰 관심을 나타냈다.

리버풀은 10일(이하 한국시간) 팀 공식 홈페이지(www.liverpoolfc.tv)에 한국의 박현진(18)과 김윤수(16)가 일주일 동안 입단 테스트를 받기 위해 구단을 방문했고 리버풀의 주력 선수인 디르크 카윗과 만나는 등 새로운 경험을 하고 있다고 전했다.

그들은 이미 첫 번째 훈련 시간 동안 리버풀 관계자들에게 인상적인 모습을 보인 것으로 전해졌다. 2시간 가량 진행된 훈련에서 박현진과 김윤수는 리버풀의 유소년팀 관계자인 펩 사구라와 스티브 쿠퍼 앞에서 좋은 모습을 보였다.

김윤수는 "리버풀팬으로 자라온 나에게 이런 기회는 정말 특별하다"면서 "리버풀에서 연락이 왔을 때 잠을 제대로 잘 수 없을 정도로 흥분됐다. 첫 번째 연습을 마친 후 너무 기쁘다. 앞으로 일주일 동안 어떤 경험을 하게 될지 모른다. 정말 거대한 꿈을 이루고 있는 것 같다"고 기쁨을 나타냈다.

공격형 미드필더인 그는 "유럽무대에서 활약하고 싶은 꿈이 있다"면서 "이번 기회는 내가 할 수 있다는 것을 보여줄 수 있는 절호의 기회다. 기회를 갖게 되어 너무 기쁘고 감사하다. 결과가 어떻게 나오더라도 항상 자랑스럽게 생각하겠다"고 말했다.

현재 리버풀은 아시아 출신 선수에 대한 영입에 큰 관심을 가진 것으로 알려졌다. 현재 프랑스 리그 1 AS 모나코에서 활약하고 있는 박주영 영입에 대해서 관심이 있는 것으로 전해진 리버풀은 어린 선수들에게까지 구체적인 관심을 보이며 적극적인 행보를 펼치고 있는 것으로 드러났다.

이날 이들의 훈련을 지켜본 리버풀 관계자는 "이번 트레이닝은 두 선수와 리버풀에게 모두 대단한 일이다"라며 "김윤수와 박현진은 다른 문화권에서 온 선수들이지만 좋은 기술과 빠른 속도를 가지고 있다. 굉장히 중요한 일이다. 물론 단 한 번의 훈련으로 그들을 판단하는 것은 어렵다. 지금부터 그들은 더욱 열심히 노력해야 한다"고 말했다.

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