The long-standing relationship is a factor that makes soccer hot. The K-League’s best rival, “East Sea Anderby,” also became exciting with unexpected exchanges of people. It is because a player from Pohang Steelers changed into a uniform of Ulsan HD, his opponent.
Side defender Shim Sang-min (30) is the hero of the match. “I had no idea that I would play in Ulsan, which I thought would be my opponent,” he said at a meeting in Kagoshima, Japan, the off-season training site for Ulsan.토토사이트
■Pohang player’s trip to Ulsan? I want to go back home
In fact, there were some players between Ulsan and Pohang. There have been many cases of Kim Byung-ji, Oh Beom-seok and Seol Ki-hyeon, who are already retired, and Shin Jin-ho (Incheon), who is still showing the best performance as an active player.
Nevertheless, it was surprising that Shim Sang-min, who competed with Ulsan for the championship until the end in Pohang last year, decided to move. It is also interesting that Ulsan will face off against Pohang in the opening match this year.
Shim Sang-min said, “My Pohang colleagues also seemed a little surprised that I was going to Ulsan,” adding, “I had no choice but to worry that Hong Myung-bo, who I usually respect, called me when my contract expired and I was looking for a new team.”
What shook Shim’s mind even more was the fact that she was born in Ulsan. “The number of years since I left Ulsan has exceeded double digits,” she said. “It was hard for my father, who works for HD Hyundai Heavy Industries (Ulsan’s parent company), to give up the opportunity to play in his hometown before his retirement age ends.” “Even my blunt father seems to be happy even though he tries not to make it obvious. I feel that I have to do better.”
The scene where Shim Sang-min (right) used to wear Pohang University uniform to protect Ulsan’s Um Won-sang. Now, the two players are teammates on the same team. Courtesy of the Korea Professional Football Federation
■My first goal in Ulsan is to win the championship
There is also a scene that Shim Sang-min wants to show his father. It is a victory. He also won the title at Pohang last year with the Korea Football Association (FA) Cup, but failed to become the runner-up in the regular league.
“Actually, when I was going to Ulsan, my father secretly thought, ‘What if I get tough in the winning team?'” Shim said. “If I do better, it will be solved. I want to contribute to the goal of achieving three consecutive wins in the K-League. Actually, I had experience of winning the regular league title in 2016 when I was playing for FC Seoul, but I was not the main player. I hope it will be different this time.”
Shim is eyeing a victory in the AFC Champions League. Starting with the first round match of the round of 16 strongest teams at the AFC Champions League with Japan’s Banpo Re Gofu on Saturday, Ulsan will seek its third championship overall.
Shim Sang-min said, “Ulsan is now a strong team looking at Asia,” adding, “The only competition in my career that I haven’t won is the ACL, and I think this year is a good chance. (Shin) Jin-ho-hyung (Incheon), who previously moved to Ulsan from Pohang, also won the ACL in Ulsan, so I want to continue the trend.”
■Defenders are the only defenders? “I want to be a goal-scoring defender.”
Shim Sang-min, who is taking on a new challenge in Ulsan, has not forgotten his efforts to break the mold by himself.
He is reminding us of his instinct to attack, which he had forgotten for a while amid criticism that he is an outstanding defensive player. Ulsan will probably see his performance this year again as he participated in attacks at the same line as the striker at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“Most defenders on the side used to be strikers. The same applies to me,” Shim said with a big smile. “In the early days of my professional debut, I was evaluated as having more skills in attack. In Ulsan, Hong said he wanted defenders to join the attack as well.”
Shim’s true intention is also evident in his training. In the past, he focused on distributing balls to teammates under the halfway line, but now he is boldly going higher. Under the current circumstances, a goal from a flanker, which is only seen in Europe, may come out.
Shim is reminiscing about the memories of 2016. It was when he was loaned to E-Land FC in Seoul right after the Olympics. “It was the first and last time I scored a goal in a pro league,” Shim said. “I ran to the front of the goal and scored a goal just like I did in school when I was a striker.”
If Shim shows the same picture in Ulsan, it would be perfect. “This would be my first goal in the first division,” Shim said. “I want to show my father both the championship and the goal. That’s my goal for this year.”