World Cup veterans present memories of 2002
By Jung Min-ho
The semifinalists of 2002 World Cup again united for the All-Star K-League Game 2012, facing off against the league’s top players at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, Thursday.
“Tonight, who wins isn’t that important,” said Guus Hiddink, the former World Cup team manager before the game started. “It’s a celebration of what we had at the 2002 World Cup.”
As expected, the game was lopsided. The K-League All-Stars dominated the match. Starting off with the Jeonbuk Motors’ midfielder Eninho’s goal, striker Lee Dong-gook scored two more to cement the lead. But soon, Team 2002 caught up after the current FC Seoul manager Choi Yong-soo and Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung scored one each before the first half ended. With three more goals and one loss, the All Stars finished the match with a 6-3 victory.
Instead of playing hard to win the game, players on both sides seemed to enjoy their time with each other in front of a fan filled stadium, this despite the rain. The atmosphere was friendly and the players displayed the same jubilation after scoring that reminded fans of the 2002 World Cup.
The old World Cup team members, now mostly in their 30s, reached the top four at the event ten years ago by knocking out powerhouses Portugal, Italy, and Spain. Although some still play, many have retired after the remarkable achievement. During the game, they were obviously slower and sometimes clumsy, compared to the performance they showed back then. Nonetheless, the game gave an opportunity for both the players and fans to look back upon their glory days and the pride they felt.
Although the game wrapped up with a “bitter” loss for the 2002 World Cup heroes, no one seemed to be sad or angry over the result. As soon as the game ended, the All Stars bowed to the World Cup heroes to show respect for what the veteran Taeguk Warriors accomplished in the world’s biggest football event; and the fans erupted with applause.