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Interview: Daejeon Citizen's Levan Shengelia

Last year Purple Arena hosted the testimonial match for Kim Eunjung, FA Cup-winning Daejeon Citizen legend and former Republic of Korea international striker. The game saw Daejeon Citizen, the team Kim began his career with, beat his current employers AFC Tubize by three goals to one. Kim added Daejeon's third of the evening before the Belgian side pulled one back through none other than Citizen's current number 7, Levan Shengelia who lined up for Tubize that evening. One year on, Levan  is on loan at Daejeon Citizen having penned a season-long loan deal in January from Tubize with Kim Eunjung said to be a major factor in the 21-year-old's move to Purple Arena.

 In another K League United exclusive, columnist Paul Neat sat down with Levan to discuss his time at Daejeon, the season thus far, and the influence of Kim Eunjung.
(Image courtesy of Facebook.com/DCFC1997)

Desperate Daejeon

After the departure of French boss Régis Brouard, Kim is the current caretaker manager of the second tier Belgian side. With the Belgian season having come to a close at the tail end of April, Kim, or "Sharp" as he is affectionately referred to by the Purple Arena faithful, has been linked to a return to his native Korea and was in attendance for the Purples' 1-0 defeat to Seongnam on Sunday 21st May at Tancheon, seemingly to check how his former team are fairing and indeed Levan.

Levan has made 10 appearances for Citizen this term, five of those from the start, having been a victim of Lee Youngik's wielding axe selection policy, scoring one goal and getting one assist.

But. given Daejeon Citizen's current league position, propping up the second tier and seven points adrift of 9th-placed Seongnam and fourteen points adrift of the playoff places, it is perhaps fair to say that the Purples' season hasn't quite gone to plan.

Full Interview

Things aren't going too well for Daejeon this season, what is going wrong?

I don't know really but we can do it, we can do something this season I am sure because we have many games still to play.

You have been in and out of the team and the manager makes lots of changes every game, does the manager explain why?

Yes, every game there are many changes to the team but I don't know why because we never speak about this, or the reason why I am out or something. I just follow the coach. Of course I want to play every game but I am not the coach, so i just follow what he says.

What are your hopes for this season?

I hope we win many games and this bad time stays behind us. For me, I want to play more and improve and also for the people who come in the stadium, make sure they enjoy the game.

Daejeon play a 4-3-3, I think Tubize played like this too. Has it helped you to play in a similar way? Does this formation suit your style? What position do you like the best?

Yes, that's right, in Tubize we played the same tactics and formation. I like this tactic and the formation, because the best position is right wing and behind forward like I play for Daejeon this season.

You joined Daejeon on loan from Tubize, how important was Kim Eunjung in your decision to join? What advice did he give you?

Yes, I am a loan player from Tubize, and for this move Kim Eunjung did everything.  In Tubize he has a lot of respect. Together, we worked on this loan move.

You said that Kim helped you in training, what did he help you with?

Yes, Kim has always been with us in training, after training, and after the match. He tells me about his experience and always - because I am a young player - don't be angry and to enjoy my football. I understand everything he says very well.

Levan for Tubize vs Daejeon in 2016, credit: Levan's Facebook

When you played Kim's friendly game in Daejeon, how was that experience, the trip to Korea and to play in a testimonial game?

Yes I remember this day well,  I scored in the last minute. It was a very good friendly match,we came to Korea for pre-season preparations for 20 days and I can tell you it was hard for us. The big time difference and also because of the new coach, and around that time it was very hot in Korea I can remember.

Do you still speak to Kim often? What does he say about Daejeon this season?

Yes, I always speak with Kim every week, and about this season too because it is very difficult. I don't know what the problem is, we always do a good job in training and in the matches, but sometimes we don't have luck.

How does K League compare to Belgium and Georgia? 

Belgium have many good teams and also the championship is very good because all matches have big crowds. This is very important for football. Between Georgia and Korea, I don't think there is a big difference.

What did you expect from the K League before you came to Korea? Any culture shocks?

Beforehand, I didn't have much information about the K League, but for me what was a surprise was how young players respect the older players more. It was a shock for me as I have never seen anything like that before. In Europe we are more free, but this is Korean culture and we respect it and so I  try to follow.

You have scored for and against Daejeon, both were beautiful goals but which goal was the best?

I couldn't choose between the one I score for Tubize against Daejeon, or the goal I scored for Daejeon. I have one goal in Belgium though; against Lommel - I think this is a best goal for me.

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