It was the 10th of last month. After dinner at the Pohang Steelers clubhouse in Songnyeon, Buk-gu, Pohang, rookie Kang Hyun-je, 21, was called to the manager’s office by coach Kim Ki-dong, “God Ki-dong,” and received the best news of his soccer career. “Two days before the Ulsan game, the coach called me into his room and asked me how I was feeling, and told me to prepare well because I was going to start. I felt like I was going to fly,” Kang recalled.굿모닝토토 주소
So far this year, Kang had only played one match in a Pohang uniform. It was a home match in the Asian Champions League group stage against Wuhan Shanzhen (China) on April 4. He played less than 10 minutes, coming on in second-half stoppage time with the score 3-1.
As predicted by Kim, Kang made his K League debut in the East Coast Derby against Ulsan on Nov. 12. He made a big impact. He scored the game-winning goal in the 31st minute of the first half when the score was tied at 0-0. “I blocked the opponent’s ball and believed that (Yoon) Jae-woon, who rushed to the right side of the penalty box in a counterattack situation, would unconditionally put up a cross. (Hong) Yoon-sang tried to cut back and I was able to score comfortably,” said Kang Hyun-je. It was a collaboration between the 2002-born trio.
The Ulsan-based parents were in attendance to witness their son’s K League debut. “They were very surprised when I told them I was playing for the first time. They told me not to be nervous, which helped a lot,” he said. “When I told him I was going to play soccer, he didn’t object, but he said, ‘If you’re going to start, don’t quit,'” he added.
‘Those who are ready get the chance’. Kang Hyun-je said, “I was feeling down because I hadn’t played for a while, but my older brothers told me to prepare well because I had a chance. The youngest coach, Lee Kyu-yong, also told me, ‘There are a lot of injuries at the end of the season, so your chance will come. Prepare yourself well,’ he said. It motivated me,” he said.
In fact, he even lost interest in soccer when he was injured. “In college, I did a lot of physical exercise and had a hard time adapting to the tempo, so I lost interest. But when I came to the pros, I found coach Nam Young-yeol’s coaching methods helpful. I developed a strong mental strength in college,” he explained.
No ‘role model’ “I don’t have a specific player I want to be like,” says Kang Hyun-je. I want to make the best of my strengths, and I especially want to learn how Lee Min-gyu unconditionally takes a shot even though it’s a difficult move inside the penalty box.”
Kang Hyun-jae’s goal for his soccer career has been revised upward. He said, “My goal this season was not to score goals, but just to play. Now that I’ve realized that goal and dream, I want to set a bigger goal for next year. I want to aim for more than five attacking points,” he laughed.