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News: Busan IPark Manager Cho Jinho Passes Away

Korean football was today shocked and saddened by the tragic news that Busan IPark manager Cho Jinho had died of a heart attack at the age of 44.
(Photo credit: KLeague.com)

Cho, who was enjoying a successful season with K League Challenge outfit Busan IPark, guiding them to second place with three games of the season to go, and with an FA Cup semi final forthcoming, collapsed near his home whilst on his way to take training.

An ambulance rushed Cho to a nearby hospital but was later pronounced dead.

As a player Cho was regarded as a talented attacking midfielder and turned out for Pohang Atoms (now Pohang Steelers), Bucheon SK (now Jeju United), and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (now Seongnam FC).

The North Gyeongsang-born Cho also went on to represent his country at youth and senior level, competing in the 1994 World Cup in the United States as well as the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan.

In recent years Cho had begun to forge an extremely promising managerial and coaching career. 

Starting as a coach at Bucheon in 2003, Cho then moved to Jeonnam Dragons in 2011 after being appointed as assistant manager where he worked alongside current Western Sydney Wanderers defender Robert Cornthwaite. 

Cornthwaite spent an enjoyable three years along side Cho and on hearing the tragic news, paid tribute to the popular coach:

"He was just a very welcoming friendly guy who I enjoyed working with. He could be quite stern at times as well. Just a great guy and good coach. He will be missed".

In 2013 Cho was appointed as assistant manager to Kim Inhwan at Daejeon Citizen, the club where he was eventually afforded his first opportunity as a number one. 

In the midst of a turbulent 2013 K League Classic season, Kim Inwhan was removed as Purples manager and Cho was installed as caretaker boss until the end of the season and tasked with keeping Citizen from the drop.

Although Citizen were eventually relegated to the second tier, the then fledgling K League Challenge, Cho's direct and attacking style of football very nearly kept the Purples up after a six game unbeaten run at the end of the 2013 campaign gave the Purple Arena faithful hope.

A year later, though, Cho was celebrating lifting the K League Challenge league title after guiding his Daejeon Citizen to first place, finishing 11 points clear and with a goal difference of +28. 

Photo credit: FA Photos

For this, and because of his positive demeanour and infectious smile, Daejeon Citizen fans will always remember Cho Jinho very fondly.

On the few occasions where Cho had returned to Purple Arena in the opposing dugout, Citizen supporters have clamoured for his signature, a photograph or even just a moment with a man that lead them to only their second trophy in 20 years and reminisce about the glory days of 2014.

In what was his second foray into the top tier as a manager, in 2016 Cho was appointed as manager of K League Classic side Sangju Sangmu.

Photo credit: Naver Sports

Under Cho's stewardship, Sangju became the first club to secure a Championship round finish the season after winning promotion and ended the season in 6th place.

Such a feat was enough to endear Cho to fans across the country and was voted by our readers as the 2016 manager of the year.

In 2017 Cho was then appointed as manager of Busan IPark and tasked with leading the four-time K League Champions back to the top tier and was very much on course to do exactly that.

Although Busan had all but missed out on automatic promotion, the South Gyeongsang side were well placed in second and also have an FA Cup semi final with Suwon Bluewings to look forward to.

The Korean Football Association has said that there will be a minute's silence to pay tribute to Cho Jinho before the Korean National Team's friendly match with Morocco in Switzerland later this evening (Tuesday).

At K League United we would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Cho's family, friends, colleagues past and present, and indeed any of the supporters whom had had the privilege of having him as manager of their team.

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