20-year-old World Cup quarterfinal → Olympic medal → World Cup tears → 50 wins in the shortest time in the K-League… Evolution of leader Hong Myung-bo
It was 2005. Ulsan Hyundai coach Hong Myung-bo (54), the protagonist of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup semifinal legend who dreamed of becoming a “soccer administrator,” changed his course and entered the path of a leader. Prior to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, head coach Dick Advocaat, who took the helm of the Korean national team, picked Hong up as coach.
The entry ticket was like ‘Hong Myung-bo’. “If this is the path I have to walk, I don’t want to avoid it.
A long time of 18 years has passed. On the 25th, coach Hong wrote a new K-League coaching history. Leading Ulsan for the third season, he beat Incheon United 1-0 that day and reached 50 wins in the shortest period in the K-League. It was a feat achieved 786 days after successfully making his debut on March 1, 2021 by defeating Gangwon FC 5-0. Leader Hong Myung-bo was not always only in spring. Joy, tears, frustration, recovery, and hope danced together. It was in 2009, at the age of 40, that he took over as head coach for the first time after ending his coaching career. He coached the under-20 national team, and was recognized for his leadership by leading them to the quarterfinals for the first time in 18 years at the FIFA U-20 World Cup held in Egypt that year. That wind continued until the 2012 London Olympics. The first Olympic bronze medal in Korean soccer history was the work of coach Hong. The wave of emotion was doubled as it was a medal awarded to her neck after defeating her ‘fateful rival’ Japan in the bronze medal match.
Gangwon coach Choi Yong-soo shortened the record of 50 wins in 800 days by 14 days, which was achieved when he was the head coach of FC Seoul. Coach Hong directed 85 games in the K-League, recording 50 wins, 22 draws and 13 losses.
However, he could not avoid the fate of a director who could collapse in an instant. Coach Hong appeared as a ‘firefighter’ a year before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was after the national team had already passed the final qualifying round. He didn’t lie for a short time. The ending hurt. He was eliminated in the group stage, and his life was trampled mercilessly.
The ‘Savage Age’ was also quite long. He distanced himself from Korean soccer in the harsh eyes of the world. After 1 year and 6 months, he returned to the ground, but the stage was China. He took over the command tower of Hangzhou Lucheng (Green Town) and lived in China until May of the following year. He didn’t have any reverse. It seemed that Hong’s life as a leader was coming to an end. 메이저놀이터
After a long journey, a new road to becoming an administrator, the dream he had for the first time, opened. On November 17, 2017, coach Hong took his first job as executive director of the Korea Football Association. There was also the rewarding of ‘work life’. As much as he knows the field better than anyone else, he played the role of a midwife in making a soft landing for Paulo Bento’s managerial system.
In the meantime, the thirst for the ground has not been erased. There was a K-League in one corner of his heart, and in December 2020, Ulsan held his hand. 50 wins in the shortest period is a different work from Hwanhee, who gifted Ulsan the K-League championship last year for the first time in 17 years. Following 21 wins in the first season and 22 wins in the second season, they have already won 7 wins (1 draw and 1 loss) in 9 games this season. The Ulsan club is tightening the reins toward its second consecutive K-League victory, the first in history.
Coach Hong was embarrassed even though he achieved 50 wins in the shortest period of time. “The players devoted themselves to winning every moment rather than me. I want to say thank you to the players.” Still, he did not hide the smile on his lips. Leader Hong Myung-bo is still evolving.