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Wed 25 January 2023 | 11:30

Best Korean Soccer Players of All Time

As Asian footballers have shown in recent years, their football level has undergone significant progress. The players' efforts have led them to be placed fair behind their current European counterparts. To know more about the best Korean soccer players of all time, keep reading till the end.

Even if we come to the conclusion that Asian football has a long way to go before catching up to its European counterpart in terms of quality, stature, and reputation, there has never been a shortage of top-tier talent in the region. Players like Ali Dei, Shinji Kagawa, Park Ji-Sung, and Yuto Nagatomo are a few examples.

The footballers might have important positions at some of the best and most prestigious clubs in the game and win numerous honors as a result. The current generation of Asian footballers has kept up with them in terms of quality, and by playing for elite clubs, they have already established their names and reputations on the continent.

Among Asian footballing nations, South Korea has been one of the most successful. They have gotten their place in the football world by showcasing the best South Korean players' excellent skills in the best leagues around, including in the Premier League. Considering all that in mind, join us to take a look at our presented list of the best Korean footballers of all time. 

Taking a look at the List of Best Korean Soccer Players of All Time

Stay with us to take a look at the most up-to-date list of the best Korean footballers ever.

 Lee Woon-jae

  • Age: 49

  • Position: Goalkeeper

We have started the list of best Korean soccer players of all time with Lee Woon-jae, the former South Korean football goalkeeper. Lee, who was part of South Korea's FIFA World Cup for four years, 1994, 2002, 2006, and 2010, was with Mark Schwarzer.

One of his brilliant performances is for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, in which he played in all seven competitions till the third-place play-off. Meanwhile, Lee kept three clean sheets against 

Spain

, Poland, and

Portugal

.

Within the competition between South Korea and Spain, he made a remarkable history in the quarter-final. Ending in a draw result led the match to go to penalties, in which Lee left an extraordinary performance and blocked all four of Spain's shots and caused his team to win the game in the 5-3 result in the shoot-out.

Due to the result, South Korea became the first Asian team ever to enhance the World Cup semi-finals and led itself to place fourth in the competition. Lee, nicknamed 'Spider Hand,' was not a tall player with high speed, but he had excellent judgment and could show the harmonies with defenders. Owning predictive ability was the feature that had made Lee a goalkeeper who was strong on the penalty shoot-out. 

Son Heung-min

  • Age: 30

  • Position: Forward

Born in Chuncheon, Gangwon, South Korea, Son Heung-min is another name amongst the best Korean soccer players of all time. Playing brilliantly as a forward for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur shows how much the South Korean professional footballer is talented and why he is qualified to be on the list of 

famous Korean soccer players ever

.

Premier League Player of the Month, PFA Fans' Premier League Player of the Month, AFC Asian International Player of the Year are only some of Son's achievements that he had gained during 11 years of his senior career.

As Son's career statistics show, since 2009, he has played for four clubs, Hamburger SV II, Hamburger SV,

Bayer Leverkusen

, and

Tottenham

, and appeared in 448 competitions with 157 scored goals. One of Son's notable performances in the 2020-21 season is his four goals in the match against Southampton.

He scored all goals with Harry Kane's assists and earned a 5-2 win against 

Southampton

 for his team, Tottenham. The skillful forward netted his 100th goal for Tottenham on 2 January 2021, which finally ended the game in a 3-0 victory against Leeds United. Do you agree with his name amongst the famous Korean football players in history?

Hong Myung-bo

  • Age: 53

  • Position: Sweeper

The next man on the list of famous Korean soccer players ever belongs to Hong Myung-bo, who works as the current head coach of

Ulsan Hyundai

. Considered one of the best Asian footballers of all time, Myung-bo, a former South Korean footballer, played as a sweeper.

The talented player was one of the South Korean national team in four FIFA World Cups and the first Asian footballer who appeared in four consecutive World Cup final competitions. Myung-bo has recorded his name as the first Asian player who could get the Bronze Ball in World Cup.

Not only is he one of two Asian players in the FIFA 100, but amongst Pele's selection about the 125 greatest living footballers in the world. Though Myung-bo was lack of rapid pace, untiring stamina, and great ability in man-to-man defense, he was famous for his extended vision and excellent leadership, which abled him to control other defenders.

Myung-bo began his senior career with Sangmu FC in 1991, and after playing for 13 years, he ended his profession as a player with

LA Galaxy

in 2004. Meanwhile, he appeared in international competitions by South Korea U23 and South Korea, which through playing 136 times, he scored ten goals. 

Cho Kwang-rae

  • Age: 67

  • Position: Central midfielder

Another one of the best Korean football players in history is Cho Kwang-Rae, who is now 67 years old. Born in Jinju, Gyeongnam, South Korea, Cho began his senior career with Pohang Steelworks in 1978.

Being regarded as one of the most talented South Korean central midfielders of all time, Cho had got the name of 'Computer Linker' during his playing time because he was excellent at accurate passings, extended vision, and making intelligent decisions. 

Spending his club career at Yonsei University, Pohang Steelworks, Army FC, Daewoo Royals, Cho became one of the university students' national teams for the 1976 World University Football Championship, Uruguay.

From 1976 to 1986, Cho appeared in 100 international competitions and scored 15 times. Taking a look at the list of honors he left in his career are longer than what we can cover all of them.

Here we have only presented some of the most significant ones, including Korean National Championship runner-up in 1974, Korean Semi-professional League in 1980, Asian Club Championship in the 1985-86 season, and FISU Asian Cup runner-up. Now, do you agree with his name amongst the best Korean players in football history?

Choi Soon-ho

  • Age: 60

  • Position: Striker, Attacking midfielder

Born on 10 January 1962, Choi Soon-ho is a former professional football player who currently works as a South Korean football manager. Being good at controlling the ball with several abilities, such as excellent dribbling, shooting, passing, and rapid speed, led him to become one of the greatest South Korean strikers of all time.

His skills had abled him to play not only as a striker but as an attacking midfielder. Having being named in the

South Korea

team for the 1980 AFC Asian Cup, Choi left an outstanding performance by scoring two against 

Kuwait 

and a hat-trick against the United Arab Emirates.

Following this result, when he was 18, he became the youngest top scorer in the history of the AFC Asian Cup. As a South Korea under-20's player, Choi scored four goals for his team, which earned him the 1980 AFC Youth Championship award.

He also performed well at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship, which in the match against Italy scored two of four goals and assisted in two others. Following displaying perfect performances, Choi could attract a Serie A club

Juventus

attention. However, rejecting the offer by his team caused him to join them. There is no wonder why his name is one of the best Korean soccer players of all time. 

Huh Jung-moo

  • Age: 67

  • Position: Midfielder

The next name on the 

best Korean soccer players of all time

 belongs to Huh Jung-moo, a 66-year-old man who played as a midfielder during his playing career. The versatile footballer appeared in the attacking midfielder or defensive midfielder role, but he was good at playing as a striker, winger, and full-back.

His energetic playing style earned him the 'Jindogae' nickname, a name which comes from the hunter dog race originated from his hometown. Having graduation, Huh moved to Korea Electric Power FC, and then he started to do mandatory military service.

Huh played in international competitions for 12 years and meanwhile achieved two goal medals in the Asian Games. When Huh retired from football as a footballer, he started his career as a manager with POSCO Atoms in 1991-92.

His management profession lasted for more than 20 years, and during the years, he managed several clubs, including South Korea,

Jeonnam Dragons

, Yongin Football Center, and

Incheon United

. Playing like a star in the Asian football world recorded many honors in his career history, such as Korean National Championship runner-up, Koren President's Cup as a footballer and Korean FA Cup Best Manger in 2006, 2007 and Asian Coach of the Year in 2009 as a manager. 

Lee Hoe-taik

  • Age: 76

  • Position: Forward

Lee Hoe-taik is one of the other 

best Korean football players in history

, nicknamed 'Leopard' due to his innate stamina, fast speed, and strong shots. The former South Korean football player was famous for his talent in providing chances and many fundamental passes to his teammates.

As his career history reveals, through appearing in 81 caps in the national team, he could net 21 times and earn eight Asian titles. Lee's outstanding playing style and techniques made him one of the best forwards in South Korean football and one of only four footballers who enlisted into the Korean Football Hall of Fame.

Lee's first international appearance comes back to 10 December 1966, in a match against Thailand in the 1966 Asian Games. Winning the awards, such as Korean Semi-professional League, Korean National Championship runner-up, and Footballer of the Year in 1970, shows why he is one of the best Korean soccer players of the time. 

Hwang Sun-hong

  • Age: 53

  • Position: Striker

Daejeon Hana Citizen's current manager is one of the other 

best Korean soccer players of all time

, famous as the most remarkable South Korean striker during the 1990 decade and early 2000s. His entrance into the football world referred to the time which for studying football, he left for Germany.

Joining the reserve team of Bayer Leverkusen, Hwang appeared ten times in the first half of the season in the Oberliga Nordrhein and scored ten goals. In his career history, the 1995 K League was a period which most knows as Hwang heyday. Meanwhile, he scored 11 goals and had six assists within 24 appearances.

He also left a record for himself by scoring in eight consecutive games. Appearing in 25 competitions of the J1 League gave Hwang the opportunity of scoring 24 goals, by which he achieved the top scorer award of a foreign league. At the end of 2003, Hwang retired from his profession and then focused on coaching. 

Kim Joo-sung

  • Age: 56

  • Position: Winger, Sweeper

Being regarded as one of the best Asian footballers of the 20th century, Kim Joo-sung, through his excellent playing style, put his name among the best Korean soccer players of all time. Joo-sung's high pace and long curly hair had high speed caused him to become famous as 'Wild Horse.'

However, his long hairstyle had earned him another nickname, 'Samson.' The talented player usually appeared on the pitch as a winger, though he was good at the roles of attacking midfielder and sweeper. Joo-sung spent his senior career playing for Chosun University, Daewoo, and the German Bundesliga club Vfl Bochum. 

At the age of 22, Kim took part in the 1988 AFC Asian Cup and led his team, South Korea, to the final. In the final, through the penalty shoot-out, they lost the competition against their opponent,

Saudi Arabia

. However, Kim's brilliant performance caused him to be named the Most Valuable Player of the match.

One of his other achievements is leading the team's title in the Asia group of the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification and being named the Most Outstanding Player for the competition. Also, he won the 1990 Dynasty Cup in an East Asian match, which worked as compensation for his failure in the World Cup.

Though all the mentioned points are enough to put a name amongst the 

best Korean players in football history

, becoming the Asian Footballer of the Year for three consecutive years is one of his notable achievements.

Park Ji-sung

  • Age: 41

  • Position: Midfielder

Among the greatest Korean footballers of all time, Park Ji-sung, the former professional footballer, has placed second. The 40-year-old South Korean man is now a club ambassador for the team he played from 2005 to 2012, Manchester United.

His rich career history is full of achievements that prove he deserves to be one of the 

best Korean soccer players of all time

. For example, winning the UEFA Champions League, playing in a UEFA Champions League final, and gaining the FIFA Club World Cup as the first Asian reveals his talent.

The skillful footballer's physical state, fitness level, work ethic, and off-the-ball movement made him a complete package. He had a high-level endurance, which caused him to be named 'ThreeLungs' Park. Having played for the Myongji University team, Park moved to Japan to play for Kyoto Purple Sanga.

Appearing in PSV in the semi-finals of the 2004-05 UEFA Champions League caused

Manchester United

manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, to recognize Park. Later, his achievements, winning four Premier League titles, the 2007-08 UEFA Champions League, and the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup, revealed that Ferguson's choice was correct. 

Cha Bum-Kun

  • Age: 68

  • Position: Forward

We have ended our list of 

greatest Korean footballers of all time

 with Cha Bum-Kun, the former South Korean player whose thunderous ball striking ability had earned him 'Cha Boom' nickname in Germany.

Scoring 58 goals for the South Korea national team made him the all-time leading goal scorer and earned him the 1978 Asian Games award. Having reached 100 caps in the world, while he was only 24 years and 139 days, made Cha the youngest player. When he enhanced his level into the top player in his country, he moved to West Germany to play for

Eintracht Frankfurt

and Bayer Leverkusen.

Cha displayed excellent performance in two Bundesliga clubs and scored 121 goals for them, and gained the UEFA Cup with each of them. In 1991, he started his management with Hyundai Horang-i, and after 19 years, finished his career with Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Having retired, he began a youth football clinic to train South Korean football. 

As you read, the presented names on the list of best Korean soccer players of all time and the short descriptions regarding their talent and career history revealed that they have a remarkable place in the football world. If there are any ideas regarding the players or any facts about their career history, let our team in

Sportmob

know via sharing them in the comment section.

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