Hong-cheol, the first ‘official captain’ in his life, said, “I will think twice about a greater responsibility.”


Hong Cheol (35, Daegu FC), a former member of the national team, will be appointed as the official captain for the first time in his professional career and will welcome the 2024 season. “I hope to see a higher performance than the past two years,” he said, who has led his team’s ranking rise every year since joining Daegu.

Hong made his debut with Seongnam Ilhwa (currently Seongnam FC) in 2010, and has since played for Suwon Samsung and Ulsan Hyundai (currently Ulsan HD). With his fast feet and precise kicks, he also played as a winger, making his reputation as an attacking fullback. He was selected as an adult national team player in the second year since his debut, and is one of the most active fullbacks in the 2010s. Since then, he has continued his performance by joining the Daegu team in 2022.

The year 2024 is already special for Hong, who is about to make his third season in Daegu. Hong has become an official captain of Daegu for the first time in his professional career. After completing the first training session in Chiang Rai, Thailand, Hong has been conducting the second training session in Gyeongnam, which will continue through Sunday.

Ahead of the opening, Hong emphasized a greater sense of responsibility. “I feel a lot of responsibility now that I am the captain,” he said in a recent telephone interview with this newspaper. His predecessor, Cesinha, also left a message of encouragement for Hong. “Thank you for encouraging me that I could do well enough. In fact, Cesinha is a higher-ranking player than the captain,” Hong joked.

Hong Cheol is a veteran in the team, but he is famous for exchanging jokes with his teammates without hesitation. In particular, Daegu fans sometimes label him as a “haters” for telling harsh jokes to his colleagues on social media.

Will Hong Cheol be no different in the 2024 season? “If I have written in the past, I will have to think twice about it,” he joked, adding, “When I was young, I was afraid of older members and had difficulty approaching them. It would be the same for younger players. I try to play pranks a lot in order to approach them first. There is a 15-year gap, but I try to be as close to my players as possible.”

Meanwhile, Hong’s ultimate goal for this season is to increase his ranking. After Hong joined the team, Daegu ranked eighth in the 2022 season and sixth in the 2023 season. Analysts say that the team’s unique color of “defense before counterattack” has become fully established. “More than anything else, shouldn’t the team have a good performance? If the results are not good, I think I will blame myself a lot as the captain. Since joining the team, the team has been ranked higher every time. I want to finish this year higher than that.”

Rumor has it that Daegu has tried various styles of soccer during the off-season training, while maintaining its existing stance. Hong Cheol said, “I don’t think we’ll always be winning, and things will be very different from game to game. I tried various plays through various practices during the off-season training. There were many bad results, but Choi Won-kwon always made us play soccer that we can play well. It was hard, but it was fun.”

The 34-year-old is nearing the final stages of his career. On his final goal in Daegu, he said, “I want to win a cup, even if it’s not a league championship. I also want to go to the AFC Champions League (ACL) and play away games with my fans. My goal in the league is to play in 400 games.” He added, “Unlike in my 20s, every game is precious now. I want to play soccer for a long time without any injuries.” He also enjoyed the joy of being a daughter-in-law last month. Although I was separated from my family due to off-season training, I am determined to do my best. 퀸알바

Lastly, Hong Cheol said, “One of the things I feel after coming to Daegu is that no fan is as passionate as Daegu fan. They play away games both home and away. Fans who did so criticized us after we entered the Final A last year when we won for two consecutive years. I don’t want to disappoint the fans. I’m ready to take one more step forward.”

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