“I was hurt when I wasn’t selected for the national team, but now I feel like I’ve been compensated”

For Kim In-gyu, a late call-up to the national team, being left out of the squad was quite a blow. However, he was more than happy to be selected by interim coach Hwang Sun-hong to wear the Korean flag.

Kim has long been one of the top scorers in the K League, but he hasn’t had a chance with the national team. Paulo Bento and then Jürgen Klinsmann turned their backs on him. Even when the final roster for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup was announced, he was not selected and traveled early.

However, after the Asian Cup, Klinsmann was sacked and Kim was given a chance. Hwang Sun-hong, a former national team striker, kept a close eye on the youngster and decided to call him up to the national team. “I couldn’t leave out a player who scored 50 goals in three years,” he said at the roster announcement press conference in March.

When the roster was announced on the 11th, ahead of the second leg of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) Round of 16 tie against Jeonbuk Hyundai, In Jin-gyu remained tight-lipped. On the 12th, after the team beat Jeonbuk 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinals on aggregate score of 2-1, he was asked about his selection in the joint press area (Mix Zone).

In front of the press, Lee said, “I was grateful that so many people were interested, but I didn’t say much because I had an important game today,” adding, “Honestly, I was hurt a lot and there were many moments when I wanted to give up. I’m glad that it finally came to fruition. I’m proud of myself for not giving up.”

According to the Korea Football Association (KFA), he was selected to the national team at the age of 33 years and 333 days, making him the youngest player in the history of the South Korean national soccer team. “After holding out, a good day has come, and I’m happy to have made the team at this age,” he smiles.

There were many times when he wanted to give up on the national team. “I felt frustrated and wanted to give up, thinking, ‘How can I make the national team in the K League? But the fans of Ulsan and the K League gave him strength, and he was able to stand 토토 up. “The fans cheered for me to make the national team more than my family, and the K League fans did the same. Even though I was on a different team, I was able to hold on thanks to their support,” he said.

Hwang Sun-hong’s “50-goal player in three years” was enough to wash away the disappointment. “I had a lot of disappointments and lost a lot of confidence, but I was happy that he recognized me for persevering. I felt that I could give hope to all soccer players. I was very grateful,” he said.

He plans to work harder than anyone else on the national team. “I’m just going to put my head down, play hard and be desperate, that’s all. I think I’m the youngest and I’m going to play hard,” said a smiling Inhabigyu, who added, “It would be an honor to learn how to score goals from coach Hwang Sun-hong, who was a striker.”


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