Eighteen years in the game, 500 career appearances on the line. Ki Sung-yueng, 34, the “jewel” of Korean soccer, reflects on the beginning and now. His story continues to unfold.
On Dec. 12, Ki Sung-yueng started and played the full match between Seoul and Suwon FC in the 22nd round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 at Seoul World Cup Stadium. In doing so, Ki reached the milestone of 500 professional appearances.
After making his professional debut for Seoul in 2006 at the age of 17, Ki made 193 appearances between 2009 and 2020, including 176 in the K League, eight in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL), and nine in the FA Cup.
In 2009, Ki Sung-yueng’s long European career began. He played 87 games for Celtic (Scotland) from 2009 to 2012. He then moved to the English Premier League (EPL), playing 162 games for Swansea City from 2012 to 2013 and again from 2014 to 2018. On loan at Sunderland, he played 34 games from 2013 to 2014. He then played 23 games for Newcastle from 2018 to 2020. He made one appearance for Mallorca (Spain) in 2020 before returning to Seoul. Out of his 500 matches, he played 193 in the K League and 307 in Europe.
On the same day, Ahn Ik-soo praised Ki Sung-yueng’s milestone, saying, “500 games, (Ki Sung-yueng) has worked so hard. I want to congratulate and praise him. (Ki) Sung-yong is a down number. The traces of his efforts are expressed in numbers.” “Only he knows where (the end) is. I also played late in my career, but you decide when you want to stop,” he said, adding, “I hope it will be a long-lasting example for the younger generation.”
It was a day of celebration in Seoul. Ki Sung-yueng reached 500 appearances and set a new club record for most goals in a single game. Seoul scored three goals in the first half and four in the second to beat Suwon FC 7-2.
Ki Sung-yueng was in fine form, hitting a thunderous mid-range shot three times in the first half alone. In the 20th minute, his mid-range shot was deflected off a defender’s foot. Then, in the 27th minute, he got hold of the ball behind the penalty box and struck with confidence, but his shot went just wide of the goal. Then, in first-half stoppage time, he unleashed a powerful left-footed mid-range shot from near the center of the opponent’s box that Lee Beom-young dived to save.
After the game, Ki spoke candidly about his 500th appearance. He said, “I found out about the 500th game about two weeks ago, and I didn’t have any special thoughts about it, but now I feel like the time has passed so quickly that I feel empty. I made my debut in Seoul in 2017, and it’s an honor to play 500 games in the same place. The stadium is the same, but I feel like I’m the only one who’s changed a lot, so I have a lot of different thoughts.”
“The team has been disappointing lately, but I’m happy that we scored a lot of goals at home and created a good atmosphere for the players,” he said. “It was an important game for me personally, and I’m glad that I was able to contribute to the team.” “But we have a long way to go. We will continue to play well to reach our goal of a top split.” It’s clear that he’s putting the team ahead of the monumental personal record.
The first of his 500 matches was one of his most memorable. It was on March 4, 2007, against Daegu FC at Seoul World Cup Stadium in the opening match of the K League. An 18-year-old Ki Sung-yueng was selected by coach Séréon Guinness to start in central midfield and helped the team to a 2-0 victory.
“My first professional game was the most nerve-wracking, and I think about it a lot. I never thought I would play at such a young age, but Coach Guinness gave me a chance. It was the season opener and I can’t forget the excitement of taking my first steps on the professional stage.”온라인바카라
He also expressed his gratitude to his best friends Lee Chung-yong (Ulsan Hyundai) and Koo Ja-cheol (Jeju United). The three players have something in common: they made their K League debuts early, earned national team honors, and returned to the K League after long stints in Europe. Ki Sung-yong said, “I haven’t told my friends yet (about playing 500 games). I think they will contact me when they see the article. They are dear friends who play together in the K League. “I don’t know how long we will play, but I hope we can continue to make good memories together,” he said.
For now, Ki Sung-yueng says his goal is to achieve a good team performance rather than individual honors. “Actually, I don’t have any personal goals right now. The first goal is to finish in the top split because Seoul hasn’t done well in recent years. My second goal is to reach the ACL. There are a lot of good players in Seoul, so I really want to fulfill my goals this year.”
He reiterated his deep affection for Seoul. “I made my debut in Seoul and was given a chance. I think that’s why I was able to make the national team and go overseas. Everyone around me knows how special Seoul is to me. It’s a very important team in my career,” he said. “So when I don’t perform well, I feel more responsible. The older I get, the more important I feel. In fact, it makes me want to achieve my goals even more than when I was younger.”