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Jean-Claude Bozga Interview Part 2: "I want to come back!"

Jean-Claude Bozga left Daejeon at the end of 2016, making his final appearance for the Purples in a 1-0 defeat away to promotion winners Daegu (pictured above). But, because of his love affair with the club and supporters, the Romanian is on a one-man crusade to return to Korea and to Daejeon, and has sought out help from K League United in order to do so.
Image from Facebook.com/dcfc1997

What happened?

Despite lofty aspirations of a return to the K League Classic at the first time of asking, much like the Purples did under Cho Jinho in 2014, Daejeon’s supposed march towards the promised land of the K League Classic in 2016 didn’t quite live up to its billing.

Such aspirations did however fit in well with how Romanian defender Jean-Claude Bozga foresaw the season panning out when K League United caught up with the towering centre back last year. The 32-year-old was seemingly convinced that Daejeon Citizen were destined for bigger and better things than Korean’s second tier.

Instead, Daejeon finished in 7th place and nine points behind Busan IPark who clinched the last playoff place and as a result, Citizen’s polarising boss Choi Moonsik stepped down as manager.

Choi’s resignation meant that Citizen were looking to appoint a fourth full time manager in just five years, and with Daejeon’s last two full time managers being former assisants, former Gyeongnam FC number two Lee Youngik continued the trend and was tasked with rebuilding a depleted Daejeon squad.

Double agent

A near complete overall of the playing squad contributed to a busy period of transfer activity at Daejeon Citizen’s Sintanjin-based club house, with no fewer than 20 players arriving and just as many heading through the exit door, Jean-Claude Bozga being one of them; despite being a fans favourite and a season of sterling performances at the heart of Daejeon’s defence.

Daejeon got off to a slow start in 2016 but as the season progressed, it became clear that Jean-Claude was every bit the missing piece that Daejeon had been looking for. Likewise, it seemed that Daejeon were a perfect fit for the player himself who made it very clear that he would like to further his stay beyond his one-year contract.

Unfortunately, due to unreliable agents and mismanagement at boardroom level, Jean-Claude has since returned to his native Romania but hasn’t given up on donning the Daejeon jersey once again.

In another K League United exclusive interview, Bozga discusses how he would love a return to Daejeon, how fellow Romanian and friend Cristian Danalanche, Daejeon’s current top scorer, has pleaded with Bozga to return, as well as his true feelings towards the Purple Arena faithful.

Full interview

First of all thank-you for speaking to us again, how are you and what have you been doing since you left Daejeon?

I have not been doing anything special; just training, I went on holiday, met my friends and spent time with family. I have been training every day at home and with some lower league teams from the second division in Romania to keep myself fit.

Have you been looking at Daejeon's scores since you left?

Yeah of course, I have been looking at Daejeon’s scores. They are my former team and I had a great time there because of the fans, the people too. Because of many things, it was such a great time there.

You left Daejeon at the end of the 2016 season, you always said that you had high hopes for the team and that the team could get promoted. How disappointing was it to fall short like that and not make the playoffs?

I had high hopes so I was disappointed. I am a winner, I like to win and be at the top. When we finished 7th, I was very disappointed. I know we finished 7th but I knew that it was a success in a way because of the fans. The fans, they really liked me, they were very close to me.

It was unacceptable that we did not reach the goal [promotion], to us as players and to the fans, they are real fans.  We didn’t reach the goal  but they were still there with us. This means a lot to me.

You made it very clear that you wanted to stay at Daejeon, what went wrong? Were there any contract talks before the end of the season? Why was a very good player, who wanted to stay, allowed to leave?

I don’t know why I was allowed to leave. I think there were some talks but I don’t know 100%. I don’t know what actually went wrong.  If they really wanted me then maybe I could have stayed but, I was free to go. The agent came to me with offers and then turned around and then there was something wrong. I would prefer not to talk about him because I don’t know what went wrong.

Would it be fair to say that you fell in love with Daejeon and the K League? What did you like about Daejeon and the league in particular?

Yes, I fell in love with the Daejeon and the K League because of the honest people, the close fans, and the professional things too. I liked everything about the club. I did not expect things to be like that but when I got there at Daejeon, I was very surprised in a good way about the stadium and the training facilities.

Fan photo: Bozga with the fans in Goyang
You were very popular with the fans, I am sure they would love to see you back. Would you like to come back to Daejeon/Korea?

Straight away! Tomorrow! But it is up to the fans, if the fans have the power to convince the manager or director then I would.

I left Romania a long time ago; I prefer to have new challenges. I prefer to feel comfortable where I go. I would like to stay in Daejeon for five years if I were to go back. It is very important how the people are; around the team too and how they react when I talk with them, how much they respect me. It means a lot to me.

Have you kept in touch with any of the Daejeon players since you left? Have you spoken to Cristian Danalache much?

Yes, with Kim Dongchan, and one or two others like Kim Sungmin, but not too many. I spoke to Cristian yesterday, he told me to come back! “We need you!” he said.
He knows because we played against each other, he knows how difficult as a striker how it is to play against me. I told him I can’t do this alone, somebody has to sort this for me.

In a team like that it is important for the team and important for someone who can handle the tough situations, the last minutes, to keep focused on the game.

Full time at Goyang where Bozga watched the last 30 minutes with the travelling fans
Picture courtesy of Facebook.com/dcfc1997

Last question, do you have a message for the Daejeon fans or anything you would like to say to them?

I cannot show you but with using fingers to make hearts and with the arms too, to make a heart shape; that is how I feel about the Daejeon fans. They need to get together and be close and support the team like last year. Stay involved and keep going to the games.

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