Kim Ki-dong took the helm of the Pohang Steelers in 2019, and the team has been solid ever since. In the 2020 season, the team shook things up with an incredible performance. The team finished third in the K League 1 standings, and he was awarded the Manager of the Year award. The manager of the third-place club in the league was recognized as the best manager of the season. It was the first time in the history of the K League 1.
Kim Ki-dong is still at the top of his game this season. Compared to other clubs in the K League 1, Pohang has a low budget, but its performance on the field is ‘normal’ once again. Pohang fought well in the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 and reached the top of the Korean FA Cup. They are also doing well in the AFC Champions League. In 2023, Pohang impressed the world with their soccer once again.레모나토토 주소
Talking to coach Kim Ki-dong, it’s easy to see why he’s considered a great leader. He is a “soccer maniac” who stakes everything on one thing, and like a maniac, his philosophy and confidence are as strong as steel. He is indeed a captain worthy of the Steelers. You can also find a video interview with Kim Ki-dong on his YouTube channel, Hwanghae Village Soccer Company. Here’s a little more of the story. Some of the photos in this article are taken from the B-cut of the interview between Kim Ki-dong and Hong Yun-sang in the November 2023 issue of Best Eleven.
“I don’t do much. I’m with my family, go on a golf trip, or something. Actually, I’m more busy preparing for matches than resting.”
B11: 98% of your life is soccer, 1% is family, 1% is golf. You once said something like that. Are the shares still the same?
“My wife said in passing, isn’t there more soccer now (laughs)? Actually, isn’t that true of all soccer people? I don’t think anyone who’s a 100 out there is a 100 at home, and even when I’m not in season, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my family, and last year I had about ten days off, and then I came back into the club and we were having meetings, looking at foreign players, setting up the squad, so the break was gone.
“Oh, I can’t think of one…. I’m not good at lying, I’m very straightforward and down-to-earth, I’m not good at spinning things, I don’t think I’m very good at that, I’m a bit of an asshole (laughs).”
“I don’t know what I bought, but I have an old car that I don’t use very often. It’s about 20 years old, and I was thinking about what to do with it, so I impulsively refurbished it. It’s a car that I’m really attached to, and it would be a shame to sell it, so I thought I should take care of it and keep it for a long time. What kind of car is it? It’s 20 years old, and it’s only got 127,000 kilometers on it, and it has no dashboard, and it’s a convertible, so my wife and I can take it every time we go somewhere in the spring and fall. I’m very attached to it.”
“My wife once asked me, ‘What are you going to do with your life when you stop playing soccer?’ She told me that I’m so all-in on soccer that when the time comes that I have to let go of it, it’s going to be a waste of my life, and I feel like I’m missing out on some of the other fun things that life has to offer, and recently I was having dinner with my coaching staff and I said, ‘I’m already over 50, and I’m going to regret it when I die,’ and I feel like I’m so wrapped up in soccer that I’m not enjoying life as a player, as a coach, as a person.”
“I learn a lot from her, first of all, you can’t win with words, I’m constantly being persuaded, so I try not to talk as much as possible (laughs). When I have to make choices in my life, she’s always been there to guide me with her wisdom, like when I have to choose honor over money, she’s had some good things to say to me about that as well.”
B11: Let’s talk about your playing days as well. Before Lee Dong-guk, you were the top player in the K League for appearances by a field player. What was your lowest point in your 501 games?
“When I was 35 years old, that was my first time in the K League, and I think it’s very difficult for someone who is starting out. There’s always a preconceived notion that you’re an old man, and it was hard to overcome that. So from then on, I was signing one or two-year contracts and going through every season. It was very difficult. Looking back, every year since I was 35 has been a struggle, and I’ve played the league for four more years, but I think it’s gotten easier for the younger guys who come after me. I mean, 35 isn’t even an old man these days.”
“When you’re older, it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re not playing well, you’re out of shape,’ but when you’re a senior, you hear, ‘You’re ready, you’re ready for Kim Ki-Dong,’ even though you haven’t played a single game. I worked hard as a player to overcome that stare, and I worked harder, and I worked harder, and I ran on the field like that.”
“The difference between one year now and one year then is different (laughs). At that time, it was quite difficult even with a year difference. Also, Coach Hong is a quiet person who doesn’t talk much, right? A style that is not easy to approach. I think his personality is the same now as it was then, but when I go to Seoul, I take him to my house once in a while. I remember when he used to live in Guui-dong, we went there and had a meal. He doesn’t talk even in normal times, and then sometimes he talks a little bit, but I think he only says things that he can keep. He doesn’t blow things up.”
“They are completely different. First of all, Myung-bo was a charismatic leader in the team, and Min-jae seems to be the type who shows leadership through performance. (If Myung-bo and Min-jae were to play center back together) Oh, I think it would be a good match, because it’s not good if both of them are fast, and it’s not good if both of them have good technique. Min-jae has a lot of activity and speed. He has great momentum, and if Myung-bo can see that and adjust and support him, it’s the best combination. When I set up my central defenders, I try to use opposite types like that, like one is short but fast, and the other is slow but has good delivery, and that’s how it works.”
“I don’t think so, it’s too hard, it’s too much work. If you’re just working with the players and making tactics, you’ll get by, but there’s a lot of external things that you have to do as a head coach, and when I did it, I realized that there’s a lot of external things that you have to take care of.”
“I had 12 coaches as a player, and I felt and learned a lot from them, but what I’m trying to do is to combine what I learned from them and ‘make me’. You have to make your own soccer first, you can’t follow someone else’s. I’m trying to make sure that when other people ask me who my role model is, I can say, ‘Kim Ki-Dong is my role model’.”
B11: There are certain managers who seem to have longevity with their teams, Alex Ferguson in the past, Diego Simeone now, what is their secret?
“It’s the results (laughs), it’s all about the results, no matter how long you want to stay, if the results aren’t good, there’s going to be a fuss. I’m getting praise from the Pohang fans, but if the team goes below the top 10, will they say anything good about it? That’s the fate of a coach.”
“There are times when we’ll have a video meeting and I’ll say, ‘Here’s what I think soccer should be, here’s what the coaches think soccer should be, here’s what the players think soccer should be.’ There’s no right answer in soccer, in fact, this could be right, that could be right, it’s just different personalities. So I try not to stick to one thing, and I’m constantly thinking, so I try to have people around me that say, “Keep thinking, keep thinking, keep thinking, keep thinking,” because that’s how you make progress. You can’t just stick to your own thing and then say, “That doesn’t work for me.” You can also learn from coaches that have won a lot of championships in elementary or middle school. Whatever league they’re in, they’re winning for a reason, how they did it, why they’re playing well, it’s all for a reason, so I talk to them about it. Let’s learn from them.”
“The first time it came out was in the East Coast Derby, when (Kim) Seung-dae didn’t score, I said ‘lay-down move’ without realizing it (laughs). When we tied 2-2 in the East Coast Derby this year, it was a real lay down, not a sit down. The coaches said I fell down (laughs). I was interviewed about it the other day, and I saw the whole thing, and it was funny, but it was also embarrassing, so I think I’m a little bit camera shy these days. I cringe. I think the last time I did the ‘bread’ thing, I think it was on TV…. During the corona era, I was comfortable swearing under my mask (laughs).”
“No. There is no such thing. If someone watches a Pohang game, they will know, ‘Pohang moves like this.’ There are certain characteristics, and if you like soccer, you usually know everything. There is a big framework like that, but I change it a little depending on the opponent. Backs