“Thanks to the coach…” The incredible turnaround of ‘Captain’ Kim Joo-won on the brink of retirement
On July 15 at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, Kim Joo-won walked into the locker room to prepare for a match like any other day and was surprised to see his spot.
Hanging alongside his tattered jersey was the captain’s armband. Less than a month after joining the team in the summer transfer window, he was wearing the captain’s armband.
There was a reason. With both Lee Ki-je and Ko Seung-bum, the vice-captain, out of the starting lineup for fitness reasons, a new player had to be set as captain, and Kim Joo-won, who charismatically orchestrated the team from the defense, was the one to watch. The captain’s armband was placed in Kim’s locker room because of his ability to bring his teammates together, such as when he steadied Jang Ho-ik’s shaky mentality in the last match and led them to a draw.
At first, however, Kim refused to hand over the captain’s armband. “I gave it to my sister because I was a new player and I thought it should go to an established player rather than me, but the manager and coach said it was their will,” Kim laughed.
Despite the captain’s armband being an unintentional gift, Kim was well aware of its weight, so he pushed himself harder than anyone else and played a lot. This was especially true in Ulsan, a team with players like Bako, In-Joo Gyu, Martin Adam, and Rubik’s Cube.
“I tried to play up the line as much as possible without backing down, and I knew Min-gyu from my Jeju days, so I knew his strengths and weaknesses, so I played with mind control on how to stop him,” Kim recalls.
With the responsibility of the captain’s armband, Kim Joo-won was the nucleus of a cliffhanger defense that kept Ulsan’s attacks at bay. He was fortunate to see a thunderbolt from Lee Kyu-sung hit the crossbar early in the first half, but he kept Ulsan’s offense at bay for the entire 90 minutes by tying up Rubik’s Cube and Suwon.
Although the goal conceded to Bako in the 94th minute was an oddity, it didn’t diminish the victory, and Kim Ju-won made the 90 minutes all his own, refusing to hand over the captain’s armband even after Lee Ki-je and Go Seung-bum came on. The three points along with the first home win were a bonus. After the final whistle, he had an emotional look on his face. It was as if he was looking back on a life that could have ended his soccer career, but instead turned it into one of the mainstays of the team.카지노
Kim’s original name is Kim Jun-soo. He started with the Pohang Steelers in 2013, then the Jeonnam Dragons before joining Jeju United in 2021. However, injuries, big and small, plagued him. During his two years in Jeju, he barely played a game. That’s when he thought about retirement.
“As soon as I came to Jeju, I got sick and couldn’t play for two years. Even though I had a contract left, I thought I should just retire in Jeju. I couldn’t go about my daily life at all,” he explains.
In 2023, after gritting his teeth for what he thought would be the last time, his body finally started to feel better. “I started winter training for the first time in three years, and I could feel myself getting better. Every day