‘The Lion King’ Lee Dong-guk ‘Soul’s Two Tops’ Kim Eun-joong to coach “You did a great job! Congratulations on accomplishing what you couldn’t do as a player, as a coach”

‘The Lion King’ Lee Dong-guk has expressed his delight at the achievements of his ‘best friend’ Kim Eun-jung, the head coach of the Korea Under-20 National Team.

On the afternoon of the 9th (local time), Lee met exclusively with ‘Sports Chosun’ in Turkkiye Istanbul. Lee is in Istanbul to participate in the ‘Gatorade 5v5 Global Finals 2023 Istanbul’.

The tournament is a youth amateur futsal competition with 13 teams from 11 countries around the world, and the winners of the ‘5v5 Gatorade 안전놀이터 Futsal’ tournament in each country qualified to participate. The Korean tournament is organized by sports marketing company HNS, with Gatorade as a partner and Sports Chosun as a media partner, and is held annually. P4U FS qualified for the tournament as last year’s winner. Gatorade Ambassador Lee Dong-guk competed in the tournament with a group of students who formed the team ‘Lee Dong-guk FC’.

I met Lee on the morning of the 9th. The South Korean Under-20 soccer team, led by Kim Eun-joong, lost 1-0 to Italy in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Argentina. However, Kim Eun-Joong-ho’s team fought hard and never gave up in every game to reach the quarterfinals. They now face Israel in the third or fourth place match. Lee was full of praise.

“I want to tell them that it’s really great that they made it that far. Even though they didn’t make it to the final, they have a lot of work to do, and I hope they can improve and come up with more players who will lead Korean soccer.”

He also congratulated head coach Kim Eun-joong. For Lee, Kim was more than a teammate. Born in 1979, the two were “soul mates”. They impressed at the 1998 Asian Youth Championship. They combined for nine goals, with Lee scoring five and Kim four. South Korea went on to win the championship.

The following year, in 1999, the team failed to qualify for the tournament in Nigeria, winning one and losing two. That made Kim’s achievement all the more gratifying.

“We didn’t make it to the tournament at the worlds with Kim Eun-joong, but I want to congratulate him for doing a good job as a coach. He did things that we didn’t do back then, and I’m sure the members were watching and applauding him. He did a great job.”

Participating in the Gatorade 5v5 Global Finals 2023 Istanbul was also an eye-opening experience, especially since many of the Korean players were regular students, so it was more about participation than results. Lee also noted that.

“First of all, I came to Istanbul as a Gatorade ambassador, so I didn’t coach them all the time, I just met them for a while, but I think it was a great motivation for them, because they were so sincere about futsal. I think our friends saw and felt a lot of things, too. They had new experiences, they had new dreams, they had new challenges, and I think it will be a memory for a lifetime.”