In the world of professional sports, where money proves value, ‘one-club men’ who retire after playing for only one team are becoming increasingly rare. Few players will resist the lure of a higher salary unless they have a fair amount of loyalty to the team.
Choi Chul-soon (37) of Jeonbuk Hyundai is one of those rare beings. He joined in 2006 and has been playing for 18 years in Jeonbuk alone. He is 16 years old, not counting his military service days in between. As he enters his late 30s, there are more days to watch the game from off the field, but he is burning with passion, saying he still wants to play.
Choi Cheol-soon, whom we met on the 12th at the Jeonbuk Hyundai Clubhouse in Wanju, Jeonbuk, said, “It has been about a month since we started training. He took a break from (training) before, but this time the vacation period was longer, so we are still together.”
Jeonbuk is now called a dynasty, but it wasn’t like that from the beginning. Founded in 1994, Jeonbuk was a ‘victory vending machine’ for other teams until the early 2000s. Then, in 2005, when Choi Kang-hee took over as head coach, Jeonbuk Province began to show signs of change. Choi Chul-soon, who joined Jeonbuk the following year after taking over as head coach, is a living witness to the process of Jeonbuk becoming a leading club in the K-League from a low-ranking team. Choi Cheol-soon said, “When I first came to this team, coach Choi promised to make me the best player. The manager who was like that is no longer there and I am left,” he said with a chuckle, 메이저사이트 “while living in Jeonbuk, I have felt and experienced a lot of Jeonbuk’s victory DNA. As the number of years accumulated, I continued to think that I should instill these DNA in my juniors, so I think I have come this far.”
Until Choi Cheol-soon joined, Jeonbuk’s winning experience was winning the Korea Football Association (FA) Cup three times. However, since 2006, when Choi Chul-soon joined, he has lifted the championship trophy 13 times, including 9 league titles, 2 Asian Champions League (ACL) titles, and 2 FA Cup titles. Choi Chul-soon said, “Jeonbuk was not a team that kept winning from the beginning. So I tried hard to create a good atmosphere,” he said. “In Jeonbuk, there are players who kick the ball well, and there are players who support their teammates by bumping into opponents with their bodies. These things didn’t look out of place and blended well. That is Jeonbuk’s ‘winning mentality’,” he emphasized.
When it comes to choosing the best player in Jeonbuk’s history, Lee Dong-guk is definitely the first. However, Lee Dong-guk was not a Jeonbuk one-club man. In terms of winning careers in Jeonbuk, Choi Chul-soon has more than Lee Dong-gook. The same goes for Jeonbuk coach Kim Sang-sik, who even ate rice with Choi Chul-soon in Jeonbuk when he was a player. This is why Jeonbuk fans can’t help but regard Choi Chul-soon as special. Choi Cheol-soon also said, “When I play on the playground, the cheering voices of the fans are a great source of strength. I am always grateful to the fans for cheering us on so that we can win.”
Cheol-soon Choi, now in his late 30s, is now spending the last years of his career. He renewed the contract for 2 years after the 2021 season, but the contract ends at the end of this year. His appearance in the game has decreased significantly in the last season, and talk about the timing of his retirement is steadily coming out.
However, Choi Chul-soon expressed his desire to play more, saying that his passion for soccer has not cooled down yet. Choi Chul-soon said, “Last season was a season in which we tried to be very helpful in the team aspect. As a veteran, he focused on the role of a helper on the outside.” I still believe in my role, so I can go out and help when they need me. I want to play until at least 2025,” he said.
There is also a way to leave Jeonbuk and transfer to another team in order to play in many games. Regarding this, Choi Chul-soon said, “It’s a difficult part and I can’t tell you how. First of all, I have a lot of desire to play (in the game),” he said. In fact, that word has been carried over to this point, so now I am drawing a picture that is beautifully finished in Jeonbuk.” It is hard to imagine Choi Cheol-soon wearing a uniform other than the Jeonbuk uniform. The same goes for Jeonbuk fans.