“Is there another player who wrote the same story as me?”
Seoul E-Land head coach Lee Ho (39), who took off his soccer shoes last year and stepped into the leadership path, said this while looking back on his 20-year career as a professional player in an interview conducted at the Cheongpyeong Clubhouse ahead of his departure for Thai field training. Coach Lee experienced the K-League victory at Ulsan Hyundai in 2005 when he was a rookie, and led various teams such as Zenit (Russia), Seongnam, Al Ain (United Arab Emirates), Omiya (Japan), Sangju Sangmu, Jeonbuk, and Muangtong (Thailand). Afterwards, he returned to Ulsan in 2021 and supported Ulsan’s first K-League 1 championship in 17 years in the 2022 season. Coach Lee said, “I started and ended in Ulsan. As I thought and said, I finished my career by winning in Ulsan. It is a wonderful, fun, and happy story.”
Coach Lee said, “I heard the K-League trophy again, but it was heavy. Then the shape changed.” “I had quite a bit of experience winning, so I wondered how it would feel if I won this time. The moment I held the trophy, I felt like a child. I tried to restrain myself because there were many juniors around me who were 20 years younger, but that moment didn’t work. I think it was more meaningful because it was my last trophy as a player. Even if Ulsan didn’t win the championship, one of my goals was to live a professional life. I don’t think I’ll have any regrets because I’ve filled up 20 years, but I’m sure the regrets will remain for a long time.”
In the match against Jeju, which was the farewell match for this player, the tears of Yang Eun-ji, his wife, became a hot topic. Ms. Yang wept endlessly as she looked at her husband from her stand. Lee Ho said, “It must have been tears of regret and joy shed thinking about the past. I wonder if they were tears in the sense of ‘You’ve come so far, you’ve worked hard’.” Wouldn’t her husband, who has been running non-stop for 20 years, want to spend time with her family while taking a break for a year or two after retirement? Coach Lee said, “Due to the nature of my job, I will be able to rest whenever I have a break. Right now, I have something I want to do, and I think I should do it when the opportunity comes. My wife is the type to always support and support my decisions.” After Lee Ho left Ulsan, he was appointed head coach of E-Land, which was newly led by coach Park Choong-gyun.
The 2006 World Cup in Germany is an event that cannot be left out when discussing Lee’s career as a player. The 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup semifinalists and rookies such as Park Joo-young and Lee Ho were harmonized and were evaluated as ‘the best squad ever’. Lee, who played in all 3 group stage matches, provided an excuse for conceding a controversial offside point in the final group stage match against Switzerland to advance to the round of 16. He stretched out his foot to block the opponent’s pass, but the ball hit the foot and headed towards the opposing striker Alexander Fry. Fry converted it into an extra goal. The Korean players insisted on offside, but the referee refused and recognized it as a goal. South Korea lost 0-2 and failed to advance to the round of 16. Coach Lee said, “I didn’t intentionally pass the pass, it was deflected. I was unlucky.” There was no video inspection system (VAR) like that,” he said. He added, “It’s one of the regrettable scenes throughout my career, but all soccer players fail countless times and get up again.” 스포츠토토
The coach who led the Korean national team at the time was Dick Advocaat from the Netherlands. After the tournament, Lee Ho followed Advocaat to Zenit at the age of 22, realizing his dream of advancing to Europe. Ho Lee said, “I am grateful. He selected me for the national team for the first time,” and added, “But I wonder what it would have been like if I had been a little older when I joined Zenit.” He also asked about Russian football’s incorporation into the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). This number is ” It doesn’t seem like going to Asia. I hope the war (with Ukraine) will end soon.”
This coach has built a career that is not enviable. He served as a mercenary overseas and was treated like a legend in Korea. In response to the question, “What would it be like if I played soccer now?” Coach Lee said, “Wouldn’t it be worth a try? In order to become a good midfielder, he gave advice that the first is basic and the second is basic. “Like fashion, soccer goes on the trend. Nevertheless, the importance of the basics does not change. Just looking at the national team now, players with well-equipped basic skills are playing a good role.”
Coach Lee took coaching classes from Ulsan coach Hong Myung-bo as Ulsan’s playing coach for the past two years. Coach Lee said, “I learned a lot during the two years I worked with coach Hong. There was a reason and a plan for every action. It was the same even when I was angry in the locker room saying, ‘Is this a team?’ That was the only time Coach Hong got angry. I think it would be nice to become a leader who resembles Coach Hong.” Coach Lee said, “Right now, we have to help coach Park put his philosophy on the team. We want to deliver experiences that are not in the book to the players. Right now, we are half excited and half worried.” The second chapter of ‘Soccer Player Lee Ho’, the leader’s section, has just begun.