15 Best South Korean Footballers Ever

Who is the best South Korean football player of all time?

In addition to Japan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; South Korea is also known as one of the main strengths of Asian football. In the last two decades, there are great numbers of South Korean footballers playing in some of Europe's elite clubs. Not only that, the national football team of this country also accomplished great achievement when they managed to reach the semi-finals round of the 2002 World Cup.

Most of the football fans are certainly familiar with some big names such as Park Ji-sung, Hong Myung-bo, and Ahn Jung-hwan. The question is, who is South Korea's best player of all time? This is the question that I'd like to answer by writing this article.

15. Ki Sung-yueng

Ki Sung-yueng is a central midfielder who began his career in Europe in 2009 with Glasgow Celtic. He is known as a perfect midfielder, with outstanding ability of passing, dribbling, and creativity. After three years of playing for Celtic and won a Scottish Premier League trophy, he moved to Swansea City. At this club, he played as a regular starter and won the British League Cup trophy in the 2012-13 season. The best individual achievement ever won by Sung-yueng is claiming the award of Asian Young Footballer of the Year 2009.

14. Kim Nam-il

Kim Nam-Il is a defensive midfielder who performed brilliantly in the 2002 World Cup. In the tournament, he earned the nickname as "Vacuum Cleaner" because of his aggressive performances in sweeping the ball away from his defense zone. At an early period of his career, Nam-I played as an attacking midfielder. Guus Hiddink, who was then serving as the coach of South Korea realized his true talents and changed his position into a holding midfielder. The decision was proven to be right, in which Nam-Il turned to play more brilliantly in his new position.

13. Kim Tae-young

Kim Tae-young is a former South Korean footballer who was born in 1970. He became one of the mainstay of the South Korea national team's defense in the 2002 World Cup along with Hong Myung-Bo and Choi Jin-Cheul. Tae-young did not only play as a central defender, but can also be positioned as a wingback. Throughout his career as a professional footballer in the 1992-2005 period, he appeared in 105 international matches and scored three goals for the South Korea national football team.

12. Lee Chung-yong

Lee Chung-yong is a right midfielder whose popularity has soared dramatically when he joined Bolton Wanderers in 2009. Since his first season at Bolton, Chung-yong performed brilliantly and earned a place in the first team. He often scored important goals and created beautiful assists, and several times was named the Player of the Week by ESPN. Chung-yong is famous for his speed, technique, and intelligence.

11. Hwang Sun-hong

Hwang Sun-hong is the number one South Korea national team striker in the 1990s. During fourteen years of representing his country in various international matches, Sun-hong scored 50 goals in 103 appearances. While still actively playing, he was known as a very effective finisher in turning chances into goals. His best individual achievement is winning the top scorer title with J-League Cerezo Osaka in 1999, netting a total of 24 goals in 25 games.

10. Yoo Sang-chul

Yoo Sang-chul spent his entire career as a professional footballer playing in South Korean and Japanese League. He was recognized as a central midfielder with balanced offensive and defensive skills. He represented his country in two World Cups and in total scored two goals in the tournament. Sang-chul played an important role in taking his country reach the semifinal rounds of 2002 World Cup. He was even included in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team 2002.

9. Seol Ki-hyeon

Together with Ahn Jung-Hwan, Seol Ki-hyeon was the South Korea national team's main striker in the World Cup 2002. Not only that, he also holds the record as the first South Korean player to score in the Champions League, during his period at Anderlecht. At the club, Ki-hyeon scored a hat-trick within 12 minutes in a Belgian Super Cup match. In addition to playing in the Belgian league, Ki-hyeon also joined several other European clubs such as Wolverhampton Wanderers, Reading and Fulham.

8. Ahn Jung-hwan

Ahn Jung-hwan is a striker who performed brilliantly in the 2002 World Cup. In the tournament, he scored a decisive goal which helped his country eliminate Italy in the second round. The consequences of his goal was very expensive,as then Jung-hwan was fired from Perugia, an Italian League club who feel aggrieved by his goal. During his career, Jung-Hwan was famous as an effective poacher.

7. Park Chu-young

Park Chu-young has shown his quality as a world class striker at a young age. He played a vital role in helping his country win the AFC Youth Championship 2004 in which he was also named the best player of the tournament. Not only that, he again surprised the world by netting a beautiful goal from a free kick in a match against Nigeria in 2005. Having performed brilliantly in the Korean League, Chu-young finally started his career in the Europa League with AS Monaco in 2008.

6. Lee Dong-gook

Lee Dong-gook is the all time top scorer of K League (top division of football league in South Korea). He made his debut for the South Korea national team in 1998 and experienced career at Werder Bremen and Middlesbrough. Unlike most other South Korean strikers who are fast and agile, Dong-gook is actually very slow, yet powerful and effective in scoring goals. Throughout his career, Dong-gook twice won the K League titles and twice was selected as the best player of the tournament.

5. Lee Woon-jae

Lee Won-jae is a legendary South Korean goalkeeper who played for his country in the period of 1994 to 2010. He was the South Korea national team goalkeeper in the 2002 World Cup, where he performed brilliantly, especially in a match against Spain that was decided by penalty shoot-out. In the match, Woon-jae became the key player who helped his country to advance the next round, as he blocked Joaquin's penalty kick. Won-Jae spent his entire career as a professional footballer in the K League.

4. Lee Young-pyo

Lee Young-Pyo is known for his dribbling skills and astonishing speed. His natural position was a left-back, but he sometimes played as a left-midfielder. He spent most of his career playing in Europe, with PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund. With PSV and Tottenham, Young-Pyo won two Eredivisie titles and a League Cup trophy. In total, Young-Pyo represented his country in 127 international matches and scored five goals.

3. Hong Myung-bo

Many football pundits always mention the name of Hong Myung-bo whenever they talk about the best football player in Asia. Playing as a central defender, Myung-bo possessed remarkable defensive abilities. Not only that, Hong Myung-bo was also fast and possessed good leadership skills. He was the captain of the South Korea national team in the 2002 World Cup. In the tournament, Myung-bo not only helped his country finish in fourth place, but was also awarded the "Bronze Ball," a title given to the third best players of the competition.

2. Cha Bum-kun

Cha Bum-kun is a formed South Korean striker who performed brilliantly in German League in the 1980s. He was known for his powerful shot and astonishing running speed, making him was nicknamed as "Bum Tscha." Throughout his career in the Bundesliga, Bum-kun won two UEFA Cup trophies with Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen. He was also named the Best Asian Player in the 20th century by IFFHS.

1. Park Ji-sung

Not only in South Korea, Park Ji-sung is even can be called as the best Asian footballer of all time. Park is recognized as a versatile midfielder who can play in various positions. Not only that, he also possesses outstanding pace, creativity, and stamina. During his career in Europe with PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers; Park won a lot of achievements, among them are two Eredivisie titles, four Premier League titles, one Champions League trophy, and one FIFA Club World Cup.

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