“When I came to Gwangju after taking office, I said, ‘I will win and be promoted to the first division,’ and the people around me as well as the players laughed.”
Gwangju FC coach Lee Jung-hyo (48), who is preparing for the opening of the first division of professional football (25th), calmly recalled 2022 in a recent phone call. As a Jeju United coach, he rose to the command tower in Gwangju, which was relegated from the 1st division to the 2nd division after the 2021 season.
He said, “When I came, the atmosphere was chaotic due to the resignation of the former manager. Rather than thinking about promotion, everyone was worried about what to do in the second part.” Gwangju, which fell to the bottom of the first division and fell to the second division, did not receive much attention at the K League 2 Media Day held before the opening of last year. Offended by the feeling that everyone looked down on him, Lee declared, “I will play dirty football.” It meant that he would be recognized as an obstinate football, not an anti-sports football.
After his appointment, coach Lee coached the players with the belief that ‘the offense is only possible when the defense is stable’. He also instilled the message that ‘the process is more important than the result, and you must have the competitiveness to survive in the first part’.
Gwangju lost the opening match and started off shaky, but then went on a winning streak. He won the championship trophy with the most points (86, 25 wins, 11 draws, and 4 losses) in K-League 2 history. Coach Lee said, “I was convinced that I would win the championship when I scored two goals in extra time in the second half to win a dramatic victory against Gimpo FC in September last year after being down 0-1.” Gwangju confirmed the championship early on September 21st and won a promotion ticket to the 1st division. Coach Lee received the K-League 2 Coach Award after the season ended.
Coach Lee is not a star player먹튀검증. He joined Busan Daewoo Royals (now Busan I-Park) in 1998 and played as a defender before retiring from the same team in 2008. Coach Lee evaluated his playing days, saying, “He was a player with no characteristics and only worked hard.” Through coaches Ian Porterfield (Scotland) and Andre Egli (Switzerland) whom I met in Busan, I learned that I have to spend a lot of time and love on my players, which became the nourishment for me to succeed as a leader.
After retiring, Lee coached at his alma mater, Ajou University, and coached at Jeonnam, Gwangju, Seongnam FC, and Jeju United before debuting as a professional coach in Gwangju. He said, “We have team meetings five times a week. I tend to talk about my shortcomings every day and correct them.” However, the meeting does not exceed 20 minutes. Director Lee said, “I prepare a lot in advance so that I can deliver the core in 10 to 15 minutes.”
Director Lee shares roles with the coaching staff. Set-piece training is entrusted to the head coach, and player condition management is entrusted to the trainer. He said, “I realized that while I was a coach for a long time, I entrusted each area to experts, and the coach had to take full responsibility. He said, “It is the director’s job to make the experts work hard.”
Gwangju returned after the Jeju field training on the 17th. Coach Lee said, “The training score is 51 points out of 100. I want the players to raise their tactical understanding more, and there was a lack of defense. He laughed, saying, “The players did not stop working hard, so I generously scored one more point out of 50.” “There are no outstanding players on our team. If the skills are similar, I will build a team centered on players who put in a lot of effort.”
He didn’t say anything about his goals for the season. Coach Lee said, “Recently, we shared our ranking goals. ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of’ to the players. “Let’s do it courageously, defiantly and aggressively,” he said.
Gwangju fans know that coach Lee has in mind Leicester City’s ‘rebellion’, which won the top spot in English professional football in the 2015-2016 season. Like Leicester City, who rose to the championship in one year after staying in 14th place the previous season, coach Lee and Gwangju dream of a higher place. Gwangju starts the 2023 season with an away game against Suwon Samsung on the 25th, the opening day.