Please don’t cry, Cha Du-ri

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Please don’t cry, Cha Du-ri

Cha Du-ri is known so much for his solid stamina that he was nicknamed “Robot Cha.” But he cried in front of his father, proving that he is not a cyborg that can be charged on a 220V power outlet after all. At the same time, the question, “How does Cha run faster than the ball?” has been finally answered. At his last game before he retired from the national team on March 31, Cha said in an interview, “My father is a soccer legend, and no matter how hard I try, I won’t be anywhere near him. I’m not as good as him, but I always worked hard and did my best.”

While he may feel that he was in the shadow of his father, Cha Bum-kun, he is, in fact, one of the most beloved footballers in Korea. In a country that is not as energetic as its slogan, “Dynamic Korea,” football fans get vicarious satisfaction from watching him dashing across the field. It doesn’t matter if he kicks the ball in the wrong direction sometimes or that his skills are not refined. It is much better to see someone who always runs for the ball rather than wait to see if the ball comes to them.

It is rare to see parents and their children showing this high level of talent in the same field. The world is a fair place because skills are not based entirely on genetics. The children who have a head start, thanks to celebrated parents, often suffer from the “junior complex” of being compared, or comparing themselves, to the accomplishments of their mother or fathers. Cha’s tears are a manifestation of the weight he has carried through his career.

When President Park Geun-hye speaks of “rebuilding the nation,” she uses strong language. It reminds us of her father, Park Chung Hee, who advocated for the modernization and restoration of the country. When Park says she is “married to the nation,” her father’s shadow hangs around.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the person he respects the most is Park’s maternal grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. Kishi was a core member of the cabinet of Hideki Tojo, who started World War II. Abe’s aggressive hegemonic inclination and attempt to revise the peace constitution may be an ingrained idea.

As an athlete, Cha has not surpassed his father’s glory. However, he could become a better coach and manager than his dad. There are not many star athletes who also become top managers. Sun Dong-yeol and Kim Si-jin, the baseball players who are considered the best in history, were not very successful as managers. Cha Bum-kun was not as great a manager as he was a player. In contrast, Guus Hiddink and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho were not top stars in their careers as footballers. The second chapter in football is waiting for Cha.

*The author is the deputy national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, Page 31


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