Kim Su-an brings Ulsan victory over KawasakiTo make a breakthrough in his pro career, Ulsan Hyundai FC’s Kim Su-an has tried almost everything.
On Wednesday, Kim took one more step toward achieving his goal. In an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Group H match against Kawasaki Frontale, Kim entered the pitch in the 84th minute but apparently had enough time to become the hero of the night.
With both teams struggling to hit the net, Kim stepped up in the 91st minute, scoring a diving header off a Kim Tae-hwan cross. It was a goal that Ulsan head coach Kim Do-hoon called a “once-in-a-lifetime” achievement for the player.
But for Kim Su-an, it was a goal that was made out of his desperation and commitment.
“I’m happy that we won because of my goal,” Kim said after the match. “I’m not a player who’s played a lot of games. It was a planned move that we practiced in training and it just worked well.”
Kim joined Ulsan in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2017 that he actually played for the club. He was loaned out to then K League 2 clubs Gangwon FC and Chungju Hummel FC and now-defunct National League team Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Dolphin FC.
Kim was able to end his on-loan spell when current head coach Kim Do-hoon took the helm in 2017. For the 25-year-old, Kim Do-hoon was a savior.
“I was not in a position to return to Ulsan, but my head coach gave me an opportunity after he realized my desperation,” he said.
A player with a 1.92 meter (6 feet 3 inches) frame, Kim Su-an was a forward when he began his pro career, but in his return to Ulsan, he wanted to play as a defender.
“I had to think about myself,” he said. “If you’re a striker, you need to be gifted in some area, and I realized if you can’t collect goals or assists, it’s hard to play a match. I felt that I still had a long way to go.”
In 2017, he changed his name from Yong-jin to Su-an, hoping to have a fresh start at Ulsan.
“Since I returned to Ulsan after all those years, I wanted to start my football career with a fresh mindset,” he said.
Kim is listed as a defender on Ulsan’s website, but he is still registered as a forward on the K League and the AFC websites.
“I want to be a player who can help my team regardless of which position I play,” he said. “Whether I play as a forward or a defender, I’m just happy when I’m on the pitch.”
Kim has yet to score a goal in the K League in 34 appearances. But in the AFC Champions League, it was his second goal. Two years ago, he scored the winning goal in Ulsan’s 3-2 victory over Brisbane Roar in the group stage.
Ulsan fans think it’s about time for Kim to score in the K League. But Kim said getting more playing time on the pitch is his priority.
Kim knows what it is like to be an unknown football player. But he has some words to say to his colleagues who are eager to get off the bench.
“The players who compete in the match get all the attention,” he said. “But I worked hard and prepared hard, and that’s why I had this day - I hope other players can be encouraged by my performance.”
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