Hwang Hee-chan starts Premier League career with goal in debut
Hwang Hee-chan's first day at work couldn't have gone much better — the Wolverhampton Wanderers' striker came on in the 63rd minute and 20 minutes later scored to lock in the club's first win of the 2021-22 season.
Hwang's 83rd minute goal against Watford on Saturday wasn't only the first goal of his Premier League career scored in the very first game of his Premier League career, it was also the first goal scored by any Wolves player this season — a dry spell that desperately needed to be broken with three games already in the books.
Wolves walked away with a 2-0 win over Watford, following an own goal in the 74th minute. Hwang's contribution was thanks to a goal-mouth scramble rather than the stunner from outside the box he might have dreamed of, but it was still a goal and that's what Wolves needed.
“It was very good for him, but the way he came for us, that was my feeling from the first day," Wolves manager Bruno Lage said after the game "I heard every time good things about Wolves, about the way that the people received the staff and the players, the way the staff received the young players, everything was about it being a good environment.
"It happened to me when I arrived three months ago and it happened with him. He was welcomed because he is a good player and he is a top player and it is important for us to have this kind of player. For me as a manager that’s what I say every time, we need these top players to manage the game the way we want to play."
Hwang had very little time to train after returning from international duty. He arrived in England on Thursday, joined the club for just 30 minutes of training and then spent Friday being caught up on plays and attacking plans ahead of Saturday's game.
“On Thursday he just trained for 30 minutes because of the flight," Lage said. "Yesterday we prepared the game and he saw videos of the good things we did in attack, the good things that we did in our defending, the way we press. It’s good for him to start with a goal. He needs to continue giving what he did today.”
Hwang joined Wolves at the end of August on loan for the entirety of the 2021-22 season, with the club reportedly maintaining the option to buy Hwang for £12 million ($16.6 million).
Hwang joined RB Leipzig last year, having an uncharacteristically quiet season with no goals scored in only 18 appearances. Hwang's season was disrupted after he contracted Covid-19 while appearing with the Korean national team in Austria in November, but he still made a name for himself as a playmaker with the German side.
Before joining Leipzig, Hwang was part of a very strong Salzburg team, scoring 16 goals and picking up 22 assists during the 2019-20 season. Wolves reportedly tried to sign Hwang at the end of that season, but the deal fell through when the club opted to sign Daniel Podence instead.
Hwang scored three Champions League goals in six appearances with Salzburg that season, including scoring a goal and picking up an assist against Liverpool on Oct. 2, 2019.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]