K-Advent Day 21 – Returning Legends
Throughout the years there have been many a player in the K-League who has been elevated to ‘legend’ status and while some have been more than deserving of the title others have been a little less so. Football fans are often accused of being a tad guillible and of easily buying into insincere gestures such as badge-kissing and chest-thumping which are all too common an infliction in the modern game (Jeonbuk’s one-season wonder Kaio kissing his badge after scoring for new team Suwon Bluewings last year a prime example). So it is with great hesitation that the 48 Shades boys band the word “legend” around but there is no denying that this season sees the return of a couple of players who could fall into that category. The ‘Dejan returning to Korea’ rumour mill started as early as the final day of the 2015 season and it didn’t take long until the world’s worst kept secret was realized and the famous striker was yet again back in the red and black of the capital club. Dejan had only been gone for two years but for most Seoul fans it seemed an eternity, as to say they missed him was more than an understatement. Whether he is able to come close to the form which saw him net an amazing 116 goals in 181 games is yet to be seen but his signing alone has almost brought a smile to Choi Yong Soo’s normally sullen demeanour.
Another player returning to Sangam is Shim Woo-Yeon whose return has been met with howls of derision among Seoul fans. He made 29 appearances in 4 years at Seoul before transferring to Jeonbuk in 2010. His first goal for Jeonbuk came against Seoul and his goal ceremony was to mime shooting himself. When questioned about it, he said “FC Seoul’s Shim Woo-Yeon is dead, long live Jeonbuk’s Shim Woo-Yeon.” No one is quite sure why he has re-signed for FC Seoul or if he’ll actually play but 48 Shades are scanning the K-League rulebook to see if Zombies are allowed.
Also making a return to his former club is Cho Won Hee who has yet again signed for Suwon Bluewings making it his third stint at the club in 10 years. It must be said that he hasn’t always enjoyed the greatest of times at the Big Bird but with over 100 appearances for them has displayed the kind of passion for a club all too often lacking in the current era of one-season wonders. He played in the last Bluewings team not to be a failure so it will be interesting to see if he can aid them in their pursuit for silverware this year. Another player who falls under the label of ‘legend’ albeit slightly loosely is Kim Bo Kyung. In an age when players seem to be departing Korean football quicker than a chaebol empties on a Friday evening it is good to see an internationalist move to the Classic while he still has his own teeth. Of course Kim himself is making somewhat of a debut on home soil having left Korea for Japan before turning 21 but given that he has 32 caps to his name and that it was only a few years ago that he was finding the back of the net against Man United in the EPL he can be considered something of a coup if not a legend.
Of course there is always the underlying concern for returning heroes that they will fail to live up to the often inflated and slightly askew memories that we have of them. Many a footballer has seen their halo slip after a failed return to their former stomping ground, and even in recent years in the K-League we have seen players such as Djeparov and Everton fail to repeat past feats albeit for different clubs. Will this batch of legends relive their glory days or will it all end in tears and of course a good old-fashioned football tantrum!