Park Kyung-hoon – Legendary defender who even rejected MVP

Park Kyung-hoon (62) was the best side defender in Korean football in the 1980s. 

Despite his short stature (1m72cm), Park Kyung-hoon played a clever defense that covered space with excellent speed and vitality, and was a defender who was good at overlapping, a style rarely seen in the 1980s. 

After graduating from Hanyang University, he joined Pohang Iron and Steel Co. in 1984. In this year, the Pocheol soccer team made a fresh start from unemployment to a professional team. Until 1992, Park Gyeong-hoon played a total of 9 seasons as a one-club man wearing only a steel uniform. 온라인카지노

His professional football career record was 134 appearances in 9 seasons. By today’s standards, he appears to have played few games in a short season. In an interview with Ilgan Sports, Park Kyung-hoon said, “At the time, season 9 was a really long career as a player. I retired at the age of 32 (according to Korean age), but in those days, I was thinking about retiring when I got closer to 30.” 

There is also a reason why Park Kyung-Hoon’s number of business trips is not high. At that time, the national team players spent most of the season at Taereung National Training Center, not their team. Park Kyung-hoon said, “There were so many international competitions like the Asian Games, Olympics, and World Cup, as well as the Merdeka Cup back then. He seems to have spent more days in Taereung than in his team’s quarters,” he recalled. In the early days of professional football, the number of participating teams was small, so there were far fewer league matches than now. 

Park Kyung-hoon’s soccer career was unique from the start. 

He wasn’t an elite soccer player until he graduated from nursing middle school. “He had talents in arts and sports,” he was good at soccer to stand out from his peers, but he was recognized first for his art skills. From elementary school to middle school, he often won special prizes (first prize) in national art contests. 

However, due to his difficult family circumstances, he could not afford to go to a high school. Park Kyung-hoon failed to enter an art high school and wandered around preparing for a bad luck without attending high school for a year. At this time, a soccer team was formed in Suyu, which was a new school at the time, and students who were good at kicking the ball were gathered to challenge the national competition. Park Gyeong-hoon, a graduate but not in high school, entered the soccer team after receiving a recommendation. And from this time, his football career began. 

At that time, coach Pocheol, who saw Park Gyeong-hoon’s play in the national championship, ‘steamed’ him at once. He was sent to Cheonggu High School, saying, ‘It’s small, but it’s fast and runs well,’ and scouted that he would receive it as a Pocheol upon graduation. 

Park Kyung-hoon said, “The old coaches are really great. He recognized my talent at a glance and decided my career path,” he said with a laugh. 

While attending Cheonggu High School, he played with high-level players such as Byun Byung-ju, Baek Jong-cheol, and Baek Chi-soo. When he was in Cheonggu High School, the leader entrusted the position of side defender to Park Kyung-hun. 

The insight of the leaders who grasped his qualities at once is surprising, but Park Kyung-hoon went further and fiercely found a play that suits him. 

He said, “At that time, the side defense was unconditionally left to a player with a good kick. It was also the most important role for a defender to stab a long pass from the back in one shot and connect it to the striker in front,” he said. “But my strength was speed rather than kick. So I did overlapping. When I was in Cheonggu High School, doing that matched well with the strengths of other players. The sideback goes to the front and crosses, and I think it changed soccer through that. Attack routes have become more diverse. Also, the opponent’s defense couldn’t catch me, so the opposing team had no choice but to change their defense.” 

After making his pro debut at Pocheol, Park Gyeong-hoon played as the best defender in both his team and national team. He showed a really neat defense. He was ejected 0 times during his 134 appearances in professional football. In his 9 seasons, his cautions were on only 8 occasions. Park Kyung-hoon said, “I was confident in one speed. I thought I could overpower the opponent with speed without having to foul the opponent.” 

For Park Kyung-hoon, the 1986 World Cup Mexico match against Argentina is an unforgettable memory. He was substituted late in the middle of the second half. Diego Maradona was given a dedicated defensive role. Korea lost 1-3, but Park Kyung-hoon’s defense stood out. At the time, the media wrote, “Park Kyung-hoon should have been put in earlier.” 

Park Kyung-hoon also has a record of refusing to win the MVP award. He was selected as MVP in 1988, but at this time he was called up to the national team for a long time, so he could hardly play for his team. He did not go to the awards ceremony at all, saying that his junior, Lee Ki-geun, should receive the MVP award. 

Park Kyung-hoon said, “Adults were upset. Some people were angry that it was an act of ignoring the people who had chosen them,” he said. “But no matter how much I thought about it, I didn’t deserve it, but I couldn’t. He laughed, saying, “This episode later helped me get a job.” “When I was appointed as the manager of Jeju United, the then club representative saw the name Park Kyung-hoon and said, ‘If you have a history of rejecting it as not qualified for MVP, you can call our team. He said he paid for it at once, saying, “I think I will lead well.” 

The legendary defender, who lived through the ‘romantic era’ when he refused to qualify for MVP, said several times throughout the interview, “It’s an honor to be selected as the best 11 defender in professional football among prominent legends.” 

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