[스포츠서울 | 정다워기자] Asia’s first World Cup Bronze Ball winner. Myung-bo Hong (52), Ulsan Hyundai coach, is without a doubt the best defender of all time.
During his time as a player, manager Hong dominated the era with his accurate judgment, genius defensive intelligence, and his passing ability more than any other midfielder. He played a leading role in the 4th place in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and was awarded the Bronze Ball in recognition of this performance. In 2004, he was selected as one of the 100 players by FIFA. He was a great player recognized by the world beyond Asia.
Recently, Korean football has been cheering for the appearance of a large defender who surpasses Hong. The main character is Kim Min-jae (25, Fenerbahce). Kim Min-jae, who moved to Fenerbahçe, Turkey, via Jeonbuk Hyundai and China, is quickly adapting to the European stage and showing his presence. He also established himself as an indispensable defender in the national team. How does Director Hong view this kind of Kim Min-jae?
Manager Hong said in a phone call with the magazine on the 25th, “(Kim) Min-jae is like a player who has completed everything. He’s physically good, but he’s quick and smart. Compared to his size, he has excellent technique, vision, and passing ability. He has all the skills he should have as a centre-back. A player who has no lack,” he praised his juniors.
Manager Hong answered the rather straightforward question, “Hong Myung-bo and Kim Min-jae, who is the better defender?” without delay, “Min-jae is a better player than me.” It wasn’t your usual lip service.
Manager Hong said, “I was a style that predicted the opponent’s movement and the path of the pass and moved. On the other hand, the physical was not good. But Minjae is different. He has strong physical ability to compete with big players in Europe, but he also has other abilities. In that respect, I think he is a better player than me.”
Although he raised Kim Min-jae’s hand, Hong was considered the best defender in Asia during his playing days. On the contrary, there is an analysis that Hong would have played a better player in the present age because he has excellent technical skills that modern football requires of center backs.
In fact, after the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Spain and Germany received the attention of prestigious teams. At that time, the agent system was not established as it is now, and the European view of Asian players was different, so it did not happen in the end. It is for this reason that Director Hong sincerely supports Kim Min-jae’s challenge. I want my juniors to achieve the dream that I couldn’t achieve.
He said, “I wish I had played in Europe too, but it was difficult to even imagine at that time. I hope you don’t get hurt and move forward. Minjae’s growth will be of great help to Korean football.”
Kim Min-jae quickly adapted after moving to Turkey. However, recently, he suffered the ordeal of being sent off for an unreasonable foul. Director Hong said, “I don’t think it’s bad to have that kind of experience. It’s a problem if you get sent off over and over again, but it can be done once. You can think of it as a stage where you get to know the league style, especially the referee’s tendencies. don’t worry too much Min-jae is a smart player, so he will overcome it well.”
An interesting assumption here. What kind of synergy effect would have been exerted if the two players, who are considered the best defenders, manager Hong and Min-jae Kim played together? Manager Hong said, “The recent trend in world football is three-back, and if Min-jae and I play in three-back, I think a pretty good combination will come out. Me and Minjae have good passing ability, so I think a team that builds up from the rear can show great power. Defensively, he’s going to be pretty solid.”
Hong, who is returning as a leader and challenging to win the K League 1 in Ulsan, said he would like to coach Min-jae Kim someday. He said, “There is no leader who will reject a player like Min-jae. It’s fun to imagine having such a player. Wouldn’t it be nice if such an opportunity came someday?” he smiled.