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Where Are They Now? FC Seoul's 2012 K League Championship Team

Where Are They Now? FC Seoul's 2012 K League Championship Team
FC Seoul most recent K League title success was in 2016, but the last time the capital club were crowned as champions under returning boss Choi Yongsoo was in 2012. With the anniversary of when the title was sealed approaching, FC Seoul columnist Paul Neat takes a look at what the 2012 team are up to now.
(Image via fcseoulpics)

The 2012 season saw 16 teams compete in K League and so, over a 44 game season, FC Seoul finished on 96 points and 19 clear of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in second. However, with four games left, Seoul still hadn't sealed the title but knew that a win over Jeju United at home would be enough to seal a first title under Choi Yongsoo.

On 21st November 2012, FC Seoul recorded a 1-0 win thanks to a 37th minute Jung Jogook strike. The last 10 to 15 minutes were somewhat nervy but Seoul held on for the win and were crowned as 2012 K League Champions. But, where are the members of that squad now?

Choi Yongsoo (46) - Manager, 66% win record

Choi Yongsoo in the dugout ahead of FC Seoul's home fixture with Jeju United on November 21st 2012. image via fcseoulpics
Choi Yongsoo stayed at FC Seoul up until the middle of the 2016 season, winning the FA Cup the season before thanks to a 3-1 win over Incheon United. But, the former LG Cheetahs striker was lured to the Chinese Super League (CSL) and was named as manager of Jinangsu Suningin June 2016. Whilst in the CSL, Choi finished as runners up in 2016 and also as runners up in the Chinese FA Cup Final and 2017 Chinese Super Cup. Choi resigned as manager on 1st June 2017 went on to do some punditry work for the 2018 Asian Games, where it is believed he spotted current FC Seoul midfielder Ikromjon Alibaev. Choi returned to Seoul at the end of 2018 and kept the capital club in K League 1 despite falling into the relegation playoff place.

#1 Kim Yongdae (39) - Goalkeeper, 44 appearances, 17 clean sheets 

Image via Byucksan Players
Kim Youngdae spent another three seasons with FC Seoul following the 2012 title win before joining Ulsan Hyundai in 2016. During his time with the Horangi, the legendary goalkeeper lifted the FA Cup in 2017, his third with three different teams having also lifted the trophy in 2004 with Busan IPark and in 2015 with Seoul. Kim finished the 2018 season with the Horangi but saw his playing time reduced with the signings of Oh Seunghoon and Cho Soohyuk and so called time on his playing career.

Since retiring, the legendary goalkeeper has opened a goalkeeper academy based in Seoul, become a futsal player for Byuksan Players and a brand ambassador for the futsal teams’ football kits which are available for purchase. Kim Yongdae was named in the 2012 K League Best XI.

"The 2012 season was the best I had in the six years with FC Seoul and I am still in contact with some of my teammates from that time. At that time we weren't afraid of anyone and were together as one, as a team. We had a lot of good players in each position but we were all of the mindset that we needed to run that extra yard for each other and to keep driving on without stopping. I think that helped us to put a good run together."

For full, exclusive interview with Kim Yongdae click here.

#10 Dejan Damjanovic (38) - striker, 42 appearances 31 goals 

The 2012 title was Dejan's second in FC Seoul colours. Image via fcseoulpics
The club, and indeed the league’s top scorer for 2012, Dejan Damjanovic was named in the K League best 11 for that season after bagging 31 goals in 42 appearances. Dejan also received the K League “FANtastic Award” for his efforts. Dejan went on to win another league title with FC Seoul in 2016 after departing for the Chinese Super League at the end of 2013, initially with Jiangsu Suning in 2014 before joining Beijing Guoan.

Arriving on a free transfer with Choi Yongsoo at the helm, Dejan became a key member of the 2016 title-winning team, despite Choi himself leaving for China midway through. However, Dejan was allowed to leave Sangam on a Bosman free transfer to Suwon Bluewings.

In 2018, the Bluewings had one foot in the AFC Champions League final with Dejan bagging 10 goals in the ACL that year, including a goal in each leg of the semifinal against J.League side Kashima Antlers. But, despite leading both legs, Suwon and Dejan’s dream of winning Asian’s greatest prize were dashed. However, the Montenegrin could at least take solace in becoming the joint leading goal scorer in AFC Champions League history with 33 goals.

#11 Mauricio Molina Uribe (39) - winger, 41 appearances 18 goals, 19 assists 

Molina (R) celebrates scoring against Pohang in 2015 with Osmar (L).
One of FC Seoul’s most successful foreign stars, Mauricio Molina Uribe, or simply Molina as he was known at Sangam and indeed Moran, signed from Seongnam in 2011 and spent four years at Sangam. The 2012 season proved to be the Colombian’s most fruitful in front of goal, bagging 18 in 41 appearances - all of which came from the start and laying on 19 assists to result in a record of 37 combined goals and assists. After winning the FA Cup with Seoul in 2015, Molina returned to his native Colombia with Independiente Medellin. Whilst with the Estadio Atanasio Giradot side, Molina lifted the 2016 Apertura, Primera A title, before retiring at the end of the 2017 season.

#7 Go Yohan (31) - midfielder, 38 appearances 1 goal

Go Yohan is FC Seoul's one-club man having spent his entire career at Sangam.
Go Yohan remains at FC Seoul and was appointed as club captain midway through the 2018 season. In the 2-2 draw with Gangwon FC in round 19 of the 2019 K League 1 season, the one club man made his 300th league appearance for FC Seoul. Despite FC Seoul finishing second-bottom of the league, Go Yohan enjoyed a fruitful season in 2018, bagging six goals and laying on six assists. The Masan-born utility man was named in Shin Taeyong’s World Cup Squad and came on as a second half substitute in Korea’s historic win 2-0 win over Germany. Go Yohan man remains a key player for FC Seoul and, barring suspension, has been largely ever present in 2019.

#16 Ha Daesung (34) - captain, midfielder, 39 appearances 5 goals

Ha Daesung limps off against Sangju in March 2019.
Combative midfielder Ha Daesung remained at Sangam for one more year before departing to the Chinese Super League with Beijing Guoan, playing alongside former FC Seoul teammate Dejan Damjanović. In 2014 Ha picked up a CSL runners up medal before joining J.League side FC Tokyo a year later but managed to make just three appearances before signing for Nagoya Grampus later that season on loan. In 2017, following the departure of Takahagi Yojiro from Sangam, Ha returned to FC Seoul and has remained with the club ever since.

However, the former club captain’s time back in his native Korea has been blighted with injuries and has made just 17 appearances since returning. Ha’s last appearance for FC Seoul was as a substitute in the 2-0 win over Sangju Sangmu at the end of March but the 33 year-old lasted just five minutes and went off with a calf injury. Ha’s only goal since returning to Seoul was in a Super Match win against bitter rivals Suwon Bluewings in 2017, bagging the game’s opening goal in a 2-1 victory.

#8 Adilson (43) - left back, 38 appearances 1 goal

Adilson (R) was said to have helped Adriano (C) settle in at Seoul following a transfer from Daejeon Citizen.
Brazilian left-back Adilson joined FC Seoul in 2006 from Dalian Shide in China and went on to play into his late 30s before retiring at the end of the 2013 season. After which, ‘Adi’ became a coach with FC Seoul and was part of Choi Yongsoo, Hwang Sunhong, and Lee Eulyong’s coaching staff before departing the club before the start of the 2019 season. Whilst at Sangam, Adilson made well over 100 league appearances, won two K League titles, one League Cup and was an AFC Champions League runner up in 2013. Along with three other FC Seoul players that year, Adilson made it into the 2012 K League Best XI. After working as a coach and scout, primarily based in Brazil, Adi is currently back in his native Brazil undertaking his coaching badges.

#6 Kim Jinkyu (34) - centre back, 37 appearances 4 goals

Kim Jinkyu captained FC Seoul and later Daejeon Citizen but is now a youth coach with FC Seoul
Kim Jinkyu is still with FC Seoul but as part of the Club’s coaching staff, managing the Yongsan-based Osan High School in central Seoul which serves as the FC Seoul youth team. The former Korean international centre back departed Sangam in 2015 for Pattaya United in the Thai Premier League. After a season with Pattaya, Kim joined J.League 2 side Fagiano Okayama but only managed to make 10 appearances before returning to Korea with K League 2 promotion hopefuls Daejeon Citizen.

After a season blighted by injuries, during which Kim played just 13 times, the two-time K League title winner and two-time FA Cup winner called time on his playing career and is now a youth coach with FC Seoul. To honour his playing career, FC Seoul released a special edition home shirt in 2018 with ‘Kim Jinkyu 6’ printed on the back in gold.

#22 Koh Myongjin (31) - midfielder, 39 appearances 1 goal

Midfielder Koh Myongjin was linked with a summer move back to FC Seoul this season after leaving Al Rayyan in Qatar where the 31 year-old spent the next four years after departing Seoul in 2015. During Seoul’s 2012 title winning season, though, Ko was a key figure, making 36 starts from 39 appearances overall and scoring one goal - the second in a 6-0 thrashing of Busan IPark in July that year. After leaving the K League, Koh went on to win the Qatari Stars League in 2015/2016 season, and the Sheikh Jassam Cup in 2018. Since leaving the Middle East, Koh signed with Croatian First Football League side NK Slaven Belupo Koprivnica.

#4 Kim Jooyoung (31) - defender, 30 appearances

Kim Jooyoung remained with FC Seoul up until the end of the 2014 season after which he was named in the K League best 11 for that year, before departing for Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League. Kim spent two seasons in Shanghai and picked up a CSL runners up medal in 2015. In 2017, and after 41 league appearances, Kim joined Hebei CFFC for a season but fell victim to the CSL’s Asian quota which saw playing time limited. Kim Jooyoung retired from professional football at just 30 years old is currently residing in Korea where the former Gyeongnam man is believed to have various business interests.

#5 Choi Hyuntae (32) - midfielder, 27 appearances

In FC Seoul’s 2012 K League title winning season, midfielder Choi Hyuntae made 27 appearances, 21 of which came from the start. Choi spent a further two years with Seoul, making 31 league appearances, before beginning mandatory military service with Sangju Sangmu. Choi was a regular in his first season with Sangju, making 26 appearances and scoring two goals as the army side gained promotion from K League Challenge (now K League 2).

In Sangju’s first season in the top flight, playing time came at a premium for Choi before returning to Seoul midway through the season without featuring in the first team. At the start of 2017, Choi joined Jeju United where he has been ever since. So far this season Choi has only been able to make a handful of appearances for the relegation-threatened islanders.

#20 Han Taeyoo (38) - midfielder, 26 appearances

Image via fcseoupics
Ulsan-born midfielder Han Taeyoo made 20 starts and 26 appearances overall during the 2012 season. The 2012 title win was Han’s second as an FC Seoul player having also featured in the 2010 season as well. The defensive midfielder began his career with Seoul, coming through the ranks in 2004 having signed from Myongji University in the Seodaemun District of Seoul. Aside from a spell with Sangju Sangmu as part of his military service in 2007 and 2008, Han spent his entire career with FC Seoul before retiring after being released in 2014. However, it is believed that in 2018 Han started playing for amateur side Cheonpa FC in his native Ulsan.

#33 Choi Taewook (38) - midfielder, 28 appearances 2 goals

Choi Taewook began his career with Anyang LG Cheetahs, the club which went on to become FC Seoul in 2004, from 2000 to 2003, but after spells with Incheon United, J.League side Shimze S-Pulse, Pohang Steelers, and Jeonbuk Hyundai, Choi joined FC Seoul in 2010, spending three years with the club. During the 2012 title winning season, Choi scored two goals - the second in a 3-1 win over Gwangju in July that season after Kim Dongsub had initially given Gwangju the lead, Dejan cancelling Kim’s strike out in the 70th, and the other a first minute opener in a 2-1 home win over Pohang. Derek Asamoah, who went on to join English Football League side Carlisle United, scored the equaliser for Pohang before Kim Taehwan fired in a 74th minute winner.

The Incheon-born winger joined Ulsan in 2014 before retiring at the end of the 2014 season and taking up a role as a youth scout with the Horangi. Newly founded Seoul E-Land in K League 2, then K League Challenge, brought Choi in as a youth coach in 2015 before being promoted to the first team. From 2016 to 2017 Choi joined sports broadcasting company SPOTV as a commentator and pundit covering the English Premier League but after criticism of his punditry style, the 38 year-old returned to coaching with Seoul E-Land in 2018. Currently, Choi is part of Paulo Bento’s coaching staff with the Korean National Team as the Taeguk Warriors look to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

#26 Sergio Escudero (31) - forward, 20 appearances 4 goals

Born in Granada Spain to Argentinian parents, Sergio Escudero, moved to Japan in 1992 on account of his footballing father of the same name joining Urawa Reds. After moving back to Argentina in the mid-90s, Escudero returned to Japan and began his playing career with the Urawa Reds, following in his father’s footsteps. Escudero joined FC Seoul on loan in the 2012 season from Urawa, making 20 appearances and scoring four goals. The first being the fourth in the 6-0 win over Busan IPark that July before scoring the winner at home to Gyeongnam in a 2-1 victory a month later. A week later Escudero scored the first in Seoul’s 3-0 away win over Jeonnam Dragons. His fourth came in a 1-1 draw with Jeonbuk that October, finding the back of the net in the 25th minute only for Lee Donggook to restore parity just shy of the hour mark.

The naturalised Japanese citizen did enough to impress at Sangam to then earn a permanent move to FC Seoul, spending two more years with the club before joining Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese Super League for a season. In 2016 Escudero returned to Japan with Kyoto Sanga in J.League 2 but made a brief return to K League in 2018, joining Ulsan Hyundai on loan and appearing against FC Seoul in the 1-1 draw that July. The 31 year-old is back with Kyoto Sanga but has found playing time at a premium in 2019.

#13 Hyun Youngmin (39), 17 appearances 1 goal

Hyun (R) seen working with SPOTV in 2018.
A former Korean international left back, Hyun Youngmin joined FC Seoul in 2010 from Ulsan Hyundai where the South Jeolla native had spent seven years, with a year with Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia sandwiched in between. In Seoul’s 2012 title winning team, Hyun scored one goal in 17 appearances, the second goal in a 3-1 win over his former employers Ulsan Hyundai in November that year. After departing Sangam a year later, the two-time K League champion moved to Seongnam for a year before returning closer to his routes with Jeonnam Dragons where he spent four seasons before going into punditry with SPOTV and MBC in 2018 and JTBC3 Fox as of 2019.

#9 Jung Jogook (35) - striker, 17 appearances 4 goals

The 'Patriot', Jung Jogook, was in his second spell with FC Seoul in 2012 having began his career with Anyang LG Cheetahs/FC Seoul in 2003, staying until 2010 before joining French Ligue 1 side AJ Auxerre. After a loan move to Nancy, Jung returned to Korea and to FC Seoul, staying until the end of the 2012 season before departing to Ansan Police as part of his military service. In 2016 Jung joined Gwangju and scored 20 goals, making him the league's top scorer and MVP for that year. A move to Gangwon FC followed where he remains to this day.

During the 2012 season, Jung Jogook scored four goals in 17 appearances: the second in a 3-0 away win over Gyeongnam and a late Super Match equaliser against Suwon in November. Jung also scored the only goal of the game which sealed the K League title, the 1-0 victory over Jeju United on 21st November 2012, as well as the winner in a 2-1 comeback victory over Busan IPark in December.

#3 Kim Dongwoo (31) - centre back, 23 appearances

Centre back Kim Dongwoo was still an FC Seoul player up until the end of 2018 and played an important role in the club’s battle to avoid the drop. Before that though Kim had found first team football hard to come by up until the tail end of the season. Kim spent half a season out on loan with Daegu in 2017, making 14 appearances for the North Gyeongsang side, before returning to Sangam in 2018.

The centre back was brought in from the wilderness by caretaker manager Lee Eulyong in Seoul’s relegation run-in and was a mainstay for Choi Yongsoo once the FC Seoul legend returned to the helm. The Promotion/Relegation Playoff Final second leg was Kim’s final match for FC Seoul before moving to Jeju United on a free transfer and has been a regular for the Islanders in 2019. Kim Dongwoo provided an assist for Cho Youngwook’s header in the 3-1 first leg win over Busan IPark in the Playoff Final.

#29 Kim Taehwan (30), defender 19 appearances 1 goal

Lightning quick right-wing back Kim Taehwan, who is now often referred to as ‘Cheetah’, currently turns out for the Tigers, or Horangi rather. After departing FC Seoul at the end of 2012, Kim joined Seongnam and spent two seasons with the seven-times K League Champions, winning the FA Cup in 2014 against his former employers before securing a move to Ulsan in 2015. From the start of the 2017 season to September the following year, Kim was playing under his namesake manager Kim Taehwan at Sangju Sangmu as part of his mandatory military service before returning to cement his place in the Kim Dohoon’s starting eleven at the Munsu.

Kim received an international call up for the June 2019 friendlies with Australia and Iran but was unable to make a first cap for the Taeguk Warriors since February 2018. However, ahead of Korea’s friendly with Georgia and 2022 World Cup qualifier with Turkmenistan, Kim was again called up to Paulo Bento’s squad, preferred to Busan IPark’s Kim Moonhwan.

Honourable Mentions

In FC Seoul’s 2012 K League title winning squad were a number of players who, despite not getting a great deal of playing time that season, did go on to have good careers. For example, Moon Kihan who began his military service with Ansan Mugunghwa in 2013, joined Daegu for one season in 2015 before joining Bucheon FC 1995 where the Busan-born midfielder remains to this day. Moon made a 20 minute cameo in Seoul’s 2-1 away win over Gangwon FC for what was his only appearance in 2012.

Jung Seungyong, currently of Gangwon FC, played just 45 minutes that season, coming on as a half-time substitute for Yoon Siho in the 5-0 away defeat to Pohang Steelers on 29th November.

Full back Choi Hyojin spent most of the 2012 season as a first team regular at Sangju Sangmu as part of his mandatory military service, but returned to Sangam in November of that year and made six appearances, five as a substitute with just one start - the 3-1 win over Ulsan on 15th November. Choi went on to become a first team regular the following season before eventually joining Jeonnam Dragons in 2015. Even at the age of 36, Choi is still an important member of the Dragons’ first team squad. Similarly, Kim Chiwoo returned from Sangju towards the tail-end of the 2012 season and went on to make eight appearances for Seoul before becoming an important player thereafter.

Ko Kwangmin had barely broken through at FC Seoul in 2012 but the left-wing back turned out for Choi Yongsoo’s side 11 times, three from the start - a 1-1 draw with Daegu in March, a 2-0 away win over Daejeon Citizen in July and the 5-0 defeat to Pohang at the Steelyard in November. Ko departed Sangam in 2016 to fulfill his military service, initially joining Hwaseong FC for the 2017 season before joining Yangypeong FC in 2018. Ko returned to Sangam for the start of the 2019 season and has been Choi Yongsoo's first choice at left wing-back.

Kim Wonsik and Yoo Sanghoon, both still with FC Seoul, were also with the club in 2012 but were yet to make their FC Seoul debuts until 2016 and 2013 respectively

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