OWL Magazine Korea

“The Bold Boy, Lee Chun-soo’s Behind-the-Scenes World Cup Stories”

The 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup was a frenzy of excitement. It was the first World Cup held in South Korea, and with the appointment of coach “Hiddink,” unexpected results were achieved. While our goal was just one win, we recorded an impressive 2 wins and 1 draw in the group stage, advancing to the round of 16.

In the round of 16, we achieved a come-from-behind victory in extra time against the formidable Italy. In the quarter-finals, after a tense penalty shootout against Spain, we advanced to the semi-finals. Although we lost to Germany in the semi-finals, reaching the World Cup semi-finals was an unexpected outcome.

At that time, with the average age in their 20s and a vibrant atmosphere due to high economic growth rates, coupled with the World Cup being held in our own country and achieving good results, society was ecstatic.

“The 2002 World Cup Debut of Lee Chun-soo”

The 2002 World Cup also saw many fresh players emerging from the South Korean national team. It was a time when numerous star players, such as Ahn Jung-hwan, who was nicknamed “Lord of the Rings,” Park Ji-sung, who later played for Manchester United in the English Premier League, Kim Nam-il, known as the “Vacuum Cleaner,” Song Jong-guk, who moved to the Dutch league, and Lee Chun-soo, were produced.

The popularity brought about by the World Cup naturally shifted to the players, who received much attention.

In particular, Lee Chun-soo, the youngest member of the national team at the time, gained attention for his exploits. He even showcased a move known as the “Maldini Shot,” striking Maldini’s back of the head during the round of 16 match against Italy.

“2002 World Cup Behind-the-Scenes Stories Through Lee Chun-soo”

The book thoroughly covers the behind-the-scenes stories of the 2002 World Cup through the voice of Lee Chun-soo, the youngest member of the national team at the time.

The book provides relatively detailed descriptions of the scene where Lee Chun-soo struck Maldini’s head and the situation surrounding it.

At that time, European players, especially Italian players, were said to deliberately commit subtle fouls against Asian players. According to them, Asian players crumble under rough treatment.

In reality, the matches were rough, resulting in many injuries. Lee Chun-soo entered the game as a substitute in the second half and, while contesting for the ball near the opponent’s goal, inadvertently struck Maldini’s head while attempting to kick the ball. While it’s not clear from the footage whether it was intentional or accidental, the book describes it as intentional.

Lee Chun-soo’s action of striking Maldini’s head out of frustration with the rough play of Italian players.

Ultimately, trailing 1-0 in the game, after this incident, the game went into extra time, where Seol Ki-hyeon scored the equalizer, and in extra time, Ahn Jung-hwan scored the golden goal, defeating Italy and advancing to the quarter-finals. However, Ahn Jung-hwan, who scored the winning goal at the time, was playing for an Italian league team, and as a result, he received a notice of dismissal from the team and went through a difficult time.

“The Ohno Ceremony”

It is famous that after scoring a goal against the USA in the 2002 World Cup, Ahn Jung-hwan and the South Korean team performed the “Ohno Ceremony.” There was an incident where Kim Dong-sung took away a medal from Ohno before the World Cup, and scoring a goal against the USA was seen as a protest against this incident.

After scoring the goal, Ahn Jung-hwan mimicked skating, and Lee Chun-soo, who was standing next to him, showed a surprised expression like Ohno. However, there was controversy surrounding this ceremony at the time, which can also be detailed in the book.

“Lee Chun-soo, Always Confident and Bold”

Lee Chun-soo always showed confidence and boldness on the field. I remember the scene where he lay on the ground shedding tears after losing a match in the 2006 World Cup, and eventually, our round of 16 aspirations were dashed.

He was a player with high talent and passion for football. However, due to his behavior off the field, he didn’t gain much trust from people. During K-League matches, he even showed aggression towards referees, earning himself a bad reputation.

“Lee Chun-soo, with the Image of a Rogue”

Due to controversies both on and off the field, Lee Chun-soo didn’t receive as much recognition as his football skills warranted. He couldn’t escape the image of a rogue.

However, after retiring from football, he gained attention once again. Through appearances on the YouTube channel “Shoot for Love,” he reintroduced himself and regained the trust of fans who had turned their backs on him.

He transitioned from a player who stirred up controversies to someone who was confident and sincere, fitting well with the current societal atmosphere. From this perspective, Lee Chun-soo could be considered a player ahead of his time.

“After Football, Another Heyday for Lee Chun-soo”

Although Lee Chun-soo showed potential for success abroad by moving to Spain, he ultimately struggled to adapt to life overseas. He remains a player with regrets for not showcasing his true abilities.

However, as mentioned earlier, he garnered attention after retiring from football. He now operates his own YouTube channel and hosts programs like “Let’s Eat, Myungbo,” based on anecdotes from the 2002 World Cup.

Reflecting on old memories while reading Lee Chun-soo’s book, “The Bold Boy, Lee Chun-soo’s Behind-the-Scenes World Cup Stories,” published on August 31, 2002.