“Park Hang-seo is a hard-working person, not an outstanding person.”

“I am a hard worker, not an outstanding person.”

Park Hang-seo, former head coach of the Vietnam national soccer team, said: Contrary to his humble words, he has achieved remarkable results in Vietnam. Before coach Park took the baton, the Vietnamese national team’s performance was disastrous. Vietnam’s FIFA ranking is in the top 140. It has been a long time since they gave up the top spot in soccer in Southeast Asia. Even in the Southeast Asian Football Championship (AFF Suzuki Cup), it has been in third place since 2008. In the ‘Southeast Asian Games’, an Olympics between 11 Southeast Asian countries, they have not won a soccer gold medal since 1959.

After Park took office, Vietnam’s status on the Asian football stage has changed. Won the 2018 Southeast Asian Football Championship (AFF Suzuki Cup) held within one year of his inauguration. The following year, in 2019, it won the gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games and rose to the position of the strongest country in Southeast Asian football. The FIFA rankings also rose steeply. Currently, Vietnam’s FIFA ranking is 94th. It is the second highest ranking in Vietnamese history. In the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers, they recorded 21 points with 6 wins, 3 draws and 9 losses in 18 matches. Although it failed to pass the qualifiers, it is the highest score among the World Cup qualifiers Vietnam has ever participated in.

Youth National Team, League Best ElevenIn Vietnam, former coach Park is a national hero. He was awarded three medals only in Vietnam for three years from 2017 to 2022. He is the first as a foreigner. In Korea, they call him ‘Ssal Dink’. It is a nickname created by adding coach Hiddink, who made the Korean semifinal legend, to rice, a specialty of Vietnam. On March 2nd, I met director Park at the Channel A studio in Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.

Former manager Park started playing his football late. Usually, soccer players start playing soccer in middle school at the latest. Former coach Park entered the soccer team six months after entering high school.

“I am from the countryside. My hometown is Saengcho-myeon, Sancheong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, but local soccer was everything here. After graduating from middle school, I went to Seoul to study abroad. I am the youngest of 4 boys and 1 girl, and my older brothers and sisters all went to school in Seoul. Of course, I also thought that I should go to Seoul to study abroad. I took the entrance exam for Baejae High School, but I failed. So I went to Gyeongshin High School, which was my second choice school.”

Coincidentally, Gyeongshin High School was a prestigious soccer school. Even then, it was famous for producing former national team coach Cha Bum-geun. Coach Park raised his dream of becoming a soccer player again there.

“Even during class, when I saw the soccer team training on the playground, I couldn’t concentrate on my studies. I also wanted to play soccer. At the time, my brother-in-law, Lee Kyung-i, was acquainted with director Kyung Shin-go. With the help of my brother-in-law, I entered the soccer team in the second semester of my freshman year of high school. It’s something I can’t even think of now,”

he entered the soccer club after twists and turns, but he lived as a ghost player for six months.

“To play as a high school soccer player, I had to go through the Korea Football Association player registration process at the beginning of every year. I missed the registration deadline because I joined the soccer club six months later. In the end, I had to go to high school for another year.”

Has the payroll become a medicine? In 1976, a senior in high school and at the age of 20, former coach Park led the team to victory by scoring the winning goal at the National Blue Dragon Football Championship. Later, in 1978, when he was a sophomore at Hanyang University, he captained the youth team of the Asian Youth Football Championship (now the U-20 Asian Cup). After graduating from college, he joined the Korea First Bank soccer team, an unemployment team, and completed his military service in the army soccer team (now Kimcheon Sangmu Professional Soccer Team). After being discharged, he joined Lucky Goldstar Bull (now Seoul FC) as a founding member. In 1985, he had the honor of winning the team championship and being selected as the best eleven in the Korean Pro League.

As a player, he was on a winning streak, but former coach Park ended his 7-year career as a player at the end of the 1988 season. Commenting on his own playing days, he commented:

“I wasn’t that talented. He was short and not very athletic. I played a little more than the other players and worked as hard as I could, but I think I was at the level of fulfilling my role. In those days, retirement was a natural order after reaching the age of 30. I also had the idea that I should start leading as soon as possible.”

Conflict with the Football Association grows, the national team head coach resignsFormer coach Park cited “not being able to go to the World Cup as a national team player” as the only thing he regretted as a player. He said, “All soccer players dream of becoming a national team player and achieving results in the World Cup. Former coach Park served as a trainer for the 1994 USA World Cup national team. In the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, where he wrote a semi-final myth, he served as the national team’s head coach.

Immediately after the World Cup, he coached the U-23 national team for the 2002 Busan Asian Games. There was noise in this process. The inter-Korean unification soccer match on September 7, 2002 was a problem. Former coach Hiddink left the national team on June 30 of the same year, but the Football Association could not let him go. On September 5, 2002, two days before the match, the Korea Football Association announced, “We will put former coach Hiddink on the Korean bench in the inter-Korean reunification soccer match.”

“There was no complaint about Coach Hiddink sitting on the bench in various ways, such as inter-Korean harmony. However, the Football Association could not deliver the correct message to me. He told me that there was a problem, saying, ‘Why does Coach Hiddink have to sit on the bench?’ I knew Coach Hiddink would not sit down. So when I said, ‘I haven’t heard of coach Hiddink’s seating problem’, it turned out that I was expressing my dissatisfaction.”

Former coach Park and the Football Association also had a conflict over the salary issue. The problem was that the Football Association did not want to write an annual salary contract.

“I went to the office of the association called by a high-ranking official from the Football Association and verbally told me about my salary. I asked to write a contract. The person in charge was very angry. It seemed that they were only trying to make a verbal agreement. After many twists and turns, I decided to write a contract. Salary was less than expected. It was not much different from the salary when I was a national team coach. I couldn’t understand that the position had changed, but the salary remained the same. The date of the Asian Games was urgent, so the contract could not be postponed. Frustrated, I told the association that the Asian Games would be held without pay, so that we could adjust the terms of the contract while preparing for the 2004 Athens World Cup.”

At the time, the annual salary suggested by the Football Association was 180 million won. An official in the soccer world said, “The salary is low even by the standards of the national team coach at the time,” and “it is slightly lower than the salary of the coach of a professional K-League team.”

Former coach Park had to leave the national team right after the Asian Games. The problem was that there was a conflict with the Football Association. On September 9, 2002, former manager Park held a press conference and said, “I decided to take over as manager without pay until the Asian Games are over.” At the press conference, the notepad he took with him sparked controversy.

There was a match fixing report in 2010…

“It was difficult to speak in front of many people because I only played soccer. In case I made a mistake, I wrote down my words on a notepad before the press conference. We talked while looking at the memo, and the Football Association called this memo a ‘statement’. I realized then. The fact that I will not be in charge of the national team for long regardless of the Asian Games results.”

Due to the statement announcement, former coach Park was given a ‘severe warning’ by the Football Association, and on October 18, 2002, after the Asian Games, former coach Park was sacked for poor performance.

In the semi-finals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea lost to Iran in a penalty shoot-out. Afterwards, they defeated Thailand in the 3rd and 4th place matches to win the bronze medal. Former coach Park said, “Even though there were many good players such as Lee Chun-soo, Lee Young-pyo, and Park Ji-seong, we achieved disappointing results.” “Looking back now, I was not wise. If we had maintained an amicable relationship with the association, wouldn’t the results have been slightly different?”

Is it because the conflict with the soccer association has left the soccer world with hateful hair? In 2003, former manager Park became the coach of the Pohang Steelers. It was very unusual for a national team coach to coach a professional team. Pohang Steelers coach at the time was Choi Soon-ho, general manager of Suwon FC. He was former manager Park’s junior when he was a player.

In 2006, he served as the first coach of Gyeongnam FC. His first season was ranked 12th out of 14 clubs, but his performance jumped to 4th place the following year. Although he recorded good results, former manager Park lost his managerial position again due to a conflict with the club’s front desk.

In 2008, he served as the head coach of the Jeonnam Dragons. The Jeonnam Dragons’ 2007 season ranked 10th. In the first year of Park’s inauguration, the Jeonnam Dragons ranked ninth in the league, but finished runner-up in the Samsung Hauzen Cup, an additional tournament. In the 2009 season, they finished 4th in the league. However, in 2010, their performance plummeted to the top 10 again. Former coach Park took responsibility for this and resigned.

The sudden poor performance was not Park’s mistake. Some players participated in match-fixing at the request of the broker.

“I’m going to talk about this in passing, but in 2010, I received a report about match fixing. I don’t remember the exact date, but I received a letter. I could tell that the letter was from me because my name was written on the envelope, but there was no name from the sender. I opened it thinking it was a simple fan letter, but the contents were shocking. It was a report that some of the Jeonnam Dragons players were doing match fixing. The matches in which the match-fixing took place were detailed, as well as the names of the players involved. The letter also said that if the club did not investigate the matter in detail, it would report it to the media. I was trying to close the letter, thinking it was a joke letter, but the identity and contact information of the informant was written in postscript.”

As soon as Park read the letter, he called the informant. He intended to take drastic measures if the informant had solid evidence. However, the informant also had a feeling of heart but no physical evidence. In the end, after consulting with former manager Park and the owner, we started meeting with all players. The players denied the allegations. The investigation ended with a memorandum from the players stating that they would take responsibility if they were involved in match-fixing.

However, as a result of the prosecution’s investigation the following year, it was revealed that some players had cheated on Park. Former coach Park said, “At first, I felt betrayed, but now when I think about it again, I think those who were deceived by the broker’s flattery and ruined their careers were also victims.”

Record-breaking achievements in the first 100 days of inauguration

Afterwards, former manager Park went through Sangju Sangmu (2012-2015), and in 2017 took over the managerial position of Changwon FC, a semi-professional club.

“I thought it would be difficult to coach a professional team in Korea. He began looking for a position as manager of a professional Chinese team, but his contract seemed promising but did not go well. While he was contemplating where to live, his wife suggested that he try to coach Southeast Asian national teams such as Vietnam and Thailand. Fortunately, I got a call from Vietnam.”

Now, former coach Park is a national hero in Vietnam, but it was not an easy decision to go to a country with no connections as national team coach. He was also concerned about the fact that none of the previous foreign coaches had been in charge of the Vietnamese national team for more than eight months. However, former coach Park decided to go to Vietnam because he thought there was no alternative to remain as an active soccer coach.

In September 2017, Park coached both the Vietnam national team and the under-23 (U-23) national team. Immediately after taking office, former coach Park started to systematize training for the Vietnamese national team. He first tried his hand at physical training. He did it to overcome one of the weaknesses of Vietnamese players, the rapid decline in stamina. After that, he started training to improve the players’ understanding of tactics.

After 100 days of inauguration, the results were achieved. Vietnam’s national team finished runners-up at the AFC U-23 Football Championship held in China in January 2018. In this tournament, Korea only finished 4th. Although it failed to win, it was the first time in the history of Vietnamese football to advance to the finals of an AFC competition. Even in the finals, it was not a waste to say, ‘I lost but fought well’. The final was unfavorable for the Vietnamese national team. It was snowing hard to see in Vietnam. Despite bad weather, the Vietnamese national team pushed their opponent, Uzbekistan, to overtime.

In the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games held in August of the same year, he ranked fourth. It was the first soccer team to advance to the semifinals of the Asian Games since Vietnam’s reunification in 1975. In November 2018, he won the AFF Suzuki Cup without a single loss. Over the next two years, former coach Park produced good results and developed Vietnam into a Southeast Asian football powerhouse. Park’s tenure, which was until 2019, was also repeatedly extended. Former coach Park was in charge of the Vietnam national team until January of this year.

Former coach Park predicted that Vietnam’s football will develop more rapidly in the future.

“Vietnamese football has a different charm from other countries. The players show off their splendid skills in spite of their small physique. The passes are also short and concise. Vietnamese people refer to Vietnamese football as ‘beautiful football’. That’s why I love football so much. As Vietnam’s economy develops, investment in football is also increasing. There is plenty of potential for development.”

“I am willing to take on the third country team”Director Park was born in 1957. He is 66 years old this year. Despite his advanced age, he is still active. After the contract with the Vietnamese national team expired, rumors were rife in the soccer world about former manager Park’s future. From the story of him taking on an important position in the Korea Football Association, there were also rumors that he would be coaching a Korean professional team again. The words that former coach Park left about the position of technical chairman of the Korea Football Association ignited rumors. In a media interview on February 14, former coach Park said, “It is my conviction that a Korean should be in charge of the technical committee of the Korea Football Association.” It was a criticism of the Korea Football Association’s recruitment of German technical chief Michael Müller.

There were also voices of criticism over Park’s remarks. It was pointed out that he, who had a successful career as a foreign coach in Vietnam, had nothing to say. Former manager Park cautiously opened up about this controversy. “I am just expressing my opinion as a footballer. I am not necessarily right. However, there are certainly concerns when a foreigner takes over as the chairperson of the technical committee. The technical chairperson is an important position in appointing the national team coach. If a foreigner sits in this seat, it is highly likely that a Korean soccer leader will not even be considered for the managerial position. No matter how long a person has worked in Korea, it is difficult for a foreign technology chairperson to know the capabilities of a domestic leader as well as a Korean.”

Regarding rumors of domestic activities, he waved his hand, saying, “It’s all just rumors.” He revealed the following about why he does not want to do activities in Korea.메이저놀이터

“In Korea, there are many juniors and fellow coaches who are better than me. In particular, I have nothing to do in Korea, and since I have been away from Korea for 5 years, the sense of presence is diminished. I have no intention of entering the Football Association or the Professional Football Federation. I want to remain as a manager as long as my fitness allows. For the next 2-3 years, I can work as a field manager.”

Regarding the possibility of returning to the Vietnamese national team or professional team, he said, “I have already demonstrated my ability in Vietnam,” and “I plan to seriously consider it if a coaching offer comes from a third country team other than Korea or Vietnam.”

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