“When you study tactics, you have to skip dinner to get the answer”

“51 out of 100.” This is how Gwangju FC head coach Lee Jung-hyo (48) graded his team this season. Professional football club Gwangju FC finished third out of 12 teams in the K League 1 (1st Division) this season with 16 wins, 11 draws, and 11 losses (59 points). The team moved up from the second division this season, reversing a pre-season assessment that they were underdogs. It was their best finish since their inception in 2010. It even secured a spot in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Elite (ACLE), which is awarded to the third-placed team.월카지노

Still, Lee is unhappy. “We could have reached 60 points and scored 60 goals (actually 47). We only had one win (two draws) against the top teams (rounds 34-38). We could have finished second.” The reason he added just one point to his 50 points is that he did a little more than half the job.

Before he holds his players to a high standard, Lee cracks the whip on himself. He doesn’t eat dinner. He doesn’t eat dinner because he needs to be hungry so he can stay up until dawn watching football films and studying tactics. His chair is deliberately uncomfortable. He goes to bed at 2 a.m. and wakes up at 8 a.m. He eats a breakfast of apples, cabbage, and carrots with a drink. After work, he continues to watch football videos and goes back to sleep at dawn. “It’s gotten to the point where I enjoy the pain of an empty stomach in the evening,” he says. When I watch football abroad, I get on the treadmill. He believes it’s a waste of time to do one when you can do the other. “Ninety per cent of my waking hours are spent thinking about football,” he said.

Lee has many regrets about his playing days. His coaching philosophy is to prevent his players from repeating those regrets. He joined the Busan Daewoo Royals (now Busan IPark) in 1998 and played for only one team as a defender before retiring relatively early in 2008. He says he was a player who never saw the light of day. “As a player, I met some good coaches, such as the late Ian Porterfield (1946-2007, Scotland), but there were also many coaches who said negative things like ‘you can’t do that’. I wonder if I could have been more successful as a player if I had received a positive influence.” Since he took over as Gwangju’s head coach two years ago, he has put those lessons into practice. “If there are people around you who say things like ‘enough is enough’ or ‘it’s okay’, cut ties with them immediately,” he says, encouraging his players to be mentally strong.

Graphic=Park Sang-hoon

He runs his team under the motto of ‘players who keep growing’. To do this, he pushes them to the end. If he thinks his players are slacking off, he yells at them so loudly you can hear them in the stands, even if they’re winning the game. If he doesn’t get the play he promised, he gets furious. He believes in the saying, “From a strict teacher comes a great disciple” (嚴師出高徒). If he doesn’t teach strictly, it’s because he’s lazy (敎不嚴 師之惰).

But after training and games, he tries to play the role of “big brother” with his players, from talking about parenting to sharing hobbies. “If you score five goals, I’ll shoot your shoes” and “If you keep 15 clean sheets, I’ll give you a golf club” are among his many promises. Lee is fond of the phrase “yin deok yang bo” (陰德陽報), which means “good deeds are rewarded in the future”. “If you give without expecting anything in return, the players will reciprocate,” he said.

He has no regrets and has spent the entire year developing his team and players.” “The secret to Gwangju’s breakthrough this year is me,” he says. “I’m the secret behind this year’s Gwangju surge,” he says. “I’m the secret behind this year’s Gwangju surge.” He tailors his coaching to each player’s needs, and he doesn’t treat them like chess pieces. “They’re like a tree that grows better if you let it bask in the sun and cut off the bad branches, and I’ll continue to show that anyone can grow if you take care of them.”

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