Jesse Lingard, 32, went to Korea on Tuesday. The news that he is about to join FC Seoul after playing for Manchester United, a prestigious English Premier League (EPL), and the English national soccer team made fans excited. Considering the history of the K-League, he could be considered the best “big name” for a foreign player.
Fans were not the only ones surprised. If Lingard were to wear the Seoul uniform, it would be hard to believe even those who would meet him as opponents. Ulsan manager Hong Myung-bo, who is aiming to win his third consecutive K-League title this year, even asked back, “Is it really coming?”
“Honestly, I thought it was a rumor,” Hong told a reporter at a hotel in Kagoshima, Japan, where he was training. “It’s amazing that he came all the way to Korea even though he is a player who caused an accident in the U.K. but would covet a player from other countries as well. At the same time, I think that the status and recognition of the K-League have increased that much,” he said with a happy smile.
Even among Ulsan players, Lingard’s trip to Seoul was a huge shock to them. “It is unbelievable that a player who played for a big team called Manchester United is playing in Korea,” said veteran midfielder Ko Seung-bum, who wore a uniform for Ulsan this year.
Indeed, Lingard’s return to Seoul is a catalyst that can greatly help the K-League’s popularity. Lingard has scored 35 goals in 232 matches since his debut in the EPL as a member of Manchester United in February 2015. He also scored six goals in 32 A-matches for the English national team. “It is amazing that such a player is visiting Korean soccer fields,” Koh said. “If an EPL player comes, it will be a great hit.”
However, in order for Lingard to fulfill those expectations, he should display his best performance and skills. After leaving Manchester United for Nottingham Forest in the 2022-2023 season, he was released last summer without scoring a single goal in the EPL. Since then, Lingard has had no chance to play for more than half a year as he could not find a new team. It takes some time to regain the sense of play that he lost in the actual game.
Hong gave a positive assessment on this. In the past, Ulsan Plating Coach Park Chu-young helped him when he was struggling after losing sense of play in Arsenal. “Coach Park is a case of self-sustaining,” Hong said, “It is important for foreign players to help them adapt to a new culture and soccer style. If Lingard has the spirit of Hungry, he will be able to live up to expectations.” 마카오토토 “Experience cannot be ignored. I don’t think he will not be able to do it,” Koh said.
Hong and Ko hope Lingard will help the K-League succeed, but they have no intention of allowing his flute ceremony in front of their eyes. The first showdown between Ulsan and Seoul this year will take place on May 4. “I will definitely block Lingard,” Ko, who is already looking forward to visiting Seoul, said. “I hope someone from our team will score a goal and show Lingard the ceremony.”