‘Broke my collarbone → first game in 3 months’… “I’ve been excited since yesterday, how exciting the league will be”

Gwangju FC veteran Lee Eum made his first comeback match after a major injury.

Unable to contain his excitement, Lee also expressed his anticipation for the upcoming K League 1 stage.

Gwangju earned a 1-0 victory over Seoul Eland in the round of 16 of the 2023 Hana OneQ FA Cup with a theater goal from Heo Yul on Thursday at Mokdong Sports Complex.

Gwangju advanced to the quarterfinals with the dramatic win and will face Jeonbuk Hyundai on June 28.

On the day, Gwangju legend and veteran Lee Eum came on as a second-half substitute and played a central role in the team’s victory. It was his first official match in seven months since his K League 2 Round 43 appearance against Gyeongnam FC on October 9 last year.

Lee suffered a broken collarbone before the start of the season and was expected to miss an extended period of time. So much so that head coach Lee Jung-hyo wore Lee’s jersey backwards instead of his suit at the season-opening media day to cheer him on.

“I think it’s been over three months in real time, but I’ve been so excited since yesterday,” Lee told ESPN after the game. “It’s overwhelming, and I got goosebumps when I walked into the stadium. It definitely reminded me that a player is a player when he’s on the field,” he said.

“We hadn’t won in the league and we were able to come back and win. Of course, it’s the FA Cup, but this will help us in the league so that we can start winning more and more, and as a senior, I will lead them, push them from behind, drag them, and help them to bounce back.”

“The coach asked me to go in and control the kids,” Lee said, “and he said, ‘The game is fine, just go in and control it and work hard, and you talk to them,'” he said.

“I didn’t do anything, but I just hugged them, cheered them on, and if I thought they were going to make a mistake, I just kept picking them up. I think this win was a result of my friends’ hard work,” he said, giving credit to his juniors.

It was Lee’s first official start of the season. A week before the start of the league, he suffered a major injury. Looking back, he says, “I was really angry. Even when I was injured, I was angry and all I could think about was, ‘I’m only three days away from coming back.’ I can’t describe it, I was so angry and disappointed,” he says.

“I also thought, ‘I worked so hard and prepared so well…’ I think that was the biggest thing. Even though I was injured and falling down, I could only think about this.”

While Lee was in the hospital, Gwangju was at the center of the K League One surge at the beginning of the season. “I was so proud of them,” he said, “because I was with them in the winter training, and they were struggling a lot, and the coaching staff was struggling a lot, and the results were good, so I wasn’t crying while I was lying down, but I think I was thinking, ‘Thank God, it’s been a long time,’ and I was thinking, ‘Please don’t get hurt.

Following his official comeback, Lee is set to make his league debut against Suwon FC on Nov. 28, marking his return to the K League 1 after two years.

메이저놀이터“It wasn’t a league game, but I was very excited. “My biggest thought is, ‘How exciting is the league, how exciting is it, and I want to join as soon as possible,'” he said. “I’m very grateful to the manager, coaching staff, players, and club staff for waiting until then.

“I’ve also prepared a special ceremony if I score a goal, just in case. If you see me in one of our games in the future, I might score a goal, so come and watch.”

He concluded by saying, “As much as we’re working hard, it’s not paying off yet, but I’m so grateful to the fans for traveling so far and supporting us today. We will rebound from today’s game and do better in the league and show you entertaining soccer, so please continue to support us as you are now and the players will work harder. I will educate them well,” he told the Gwangju fans.

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