“My brothers called it the Bronze Ball instead of my name”
The excitement of the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals is priceless. But he can’t rest on his laurels. Now, he has to start from the bottom again in order to become a regular member of his club, Gangwon FC.
Lee “Captain” Seung-won, 20, led South Korea’s U-20 team to the quarterfinals of the 2023 U-20 World Cup, which concluded on Dec. 12 in Argentina.
Lee scored three goals and provided four assists with precise kicks and passes, earning him the Bronze Ball. The Bronze Ball is awarded to the third-best player at a World Cup after the Golden and Silver Balls.
Lee’s seven offensive points at the World Cup are the most by a South Korean player in a FIFA-sanctioned men’s tournament, surpassing the six (two goals, four assists) by Lee Kang-in (Mallorca), who was named the Most Valuable Player (Golden Ball) at the 2019 tournament in Poland, where he finished runner-up.
When we met at the Gangwon FC clubhouse in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on the 19th, Lee was back to his normal self. It’s hard to see the excitement of the U-20 World Cup on Lee’s face, as he’s often described as a “quiet man,” but he can’t help but smile when he recalls his memories of the tournament.
“The World Cup was a big stage and I gained a lot of experience,” he says. “I’m grateful for the attention, but I think it comes with responsibility and pressure. I have to adapt and overcome it as soon as I return to the team.”
For Lee, the tournament was a turning point in his soccer career. Although his performance was good, the moments of bumping and fighting with players from different countries were priceless.
“I felt a lot of things while bumping into foreign players at the World Cup,” Lee confessed, “I think I learned how to play when facing various opponents.” “The game against France in the first round was the most memorable,” he added, “I scored the first goal against a good French team, and I still can’t forget the moment when I made an additional assist to give us our first win.”
Before the U-20 World Cup, Lee was just one of the more promising players on his team, but after returning from the tournament, he quickly became a star. His brothers now call him “Bronze Ball” instead of his full name whenever they see him.
“My brothers congratulated me a lot when I returned. They call me ‘Bronze Ball’ instead of my name when I’m training or living,” he said, adding, “I’m grateful.” He laughed embarrassedly.
In a recent interview, his U-20 teammate Bae Jun-ho (Daejeon Hana Citizen) said, “50% of Lee Seung-won’s Bronze Ball shares are mine.” Bae has converted two penalty kicks in the tournament. Lee Seung-won was the kicker and converted both.
After hearing Bae’s joke, Lee got a little flustered. “If you look at the process of the penalty kicks, I connected the ball to (Bae) both times,” he said, adding, “I think I can give him 20 percent, if not 50 percent.” 토토사이트
Despite his performances with the U-20 national team, Lee hasn’t found a place at his club, Gangwon FC. He hasn’t even made his professional debut yet. That’s why he’s more eager than anyone to get his chance.
“I’ve been looking forward to my debut in the K League since before the World Cup,” Lee said, “and since I’ve been to the U-20 World Cup, I need to show good form from now on. I need to wear the colors of the new coach (Yoon Jung-hwan) as soon as possible.”
“My goal is to play more than five games this season while learning a lot from my brothers,” he said, adding, “I want to show that I am a player with more things in my head than I thought, and I hope the coach can bring those things out.”