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Busan IPark: Top 10 Club Legends

As one of the K League’s founding clubs, Daewoo Royals were one of the most successful Korean teams of the 1980s. Later renamed Busan I.cons, and now Busan IPark, the club has been home to some of Korea’s most talented players of the last four decades. Columnist Tomas Marcantonio ranks Busan’s most legendary players, based on their contribution to the club and Korean football as a whole.

10. Lee Jang-kwan (1997-2007)

Image via Kookje
Having turned out for Busan almost 350 times, Lee is the club’s record appearance holder by some distance. The long-serving midfielder joined the club long after the glory years of the 1980s, but he still won a K League title in his debut season in 1997.

9. Woo Sung-yong (1996-2002) 

Image via JTBC
With 54 Busan goals to his name, towering striker Woo is second in the club’s all-time goalscoring charts. He won the league with Busan in 1997 and was named in the K League Best XI in 2001. Although he only appeared intermittently for his country, Woo continued to be a regular goalscorer in the K League through the 2000s.

8. Radivoje Manić (1996-2002)

Image via Naver
The only foreign player to make the top ten, Yugoslavian forward Manić is one of the K League’s best overseas imports. The striker scored 53 goals in 172 appearances for Busan, and also holds the record for club assists with 34. Manic’s only appearance for his country incidentally came against Korea in 1997, the same year that he won the league with Busan.

7. Kim Poong-joo (1983-1996)

With 80 clean sheets for the club, Kim is Busan’s most celebrated goalkeeper. He was a regular between the sticks during Busan’s most successful period, picking up 3 league titles and an Asian Champions League (then called the Asian Club Championship) winner’s medal. Kim was twice named in the league’s Best XI and was a fixture of the national team of the late 80s and early nineties.

6. Ha Seok-joo (1990-1997)

Image via Naver
A left-footed midfielder with 94 Korean caps to his name, Ha was a regular for club and country during the 1990s. He appeared in two World Cups for Korea, and is one of the few players to have scored and been sent off in the same World Cup game (1998 vs Mexico). With Busan, Ha won two K League titles and is fifth in the club’s all time goalscoring charts.

5. Chung Hae-won (1983-1991)

Striker Chung spent his entire career with Daewoo Royals, and was a key part of the club’s most celebrated period. He was the K League top scorer in 1986, and the league’s MVP the following year, winning three league titles and the ACL with the club. Chung was also a regular for his country in the eighties, famously scoring both goals as South Korea beat North Korea 2-1 in the 1980 AFC Asian Cup.

4. Ahn Jung-hwan (1998-2000; 2008)

Image via Busan IPark
One of the most well-known faces of Korean football, Ahn might have been higher in this list had he not spent the majority of his career abroad. Ahn started his career with Busan in 1998 and was named as the K League MVP in only his second professional season. Spells in the top divisions of Italy, France, and Germany followed, as well as two goals in Korea’s famous 2002 World Cup campaign. Ahn returned to Busan for a second spell in 2008, and remains one of the club’s most loved former players.

3. Lee Tae-ho (1983-1992)

Image via Donga
Busan’s record goalscorer, diminutive striker Lee spent his whole career with Daewoo Royals. Lee scored 57 goals for his club and a further 27 for his country, winning the golden boot at the 1988 AFC Asian Cup. Lee was part of three title-winning teams at Busan, and contributed vital goals en route to the club’s ACL victory in 1986.

2. Chung Yong-hwan (1984-1994)

Image via Naver
A one-club centre back, Chung was an integral part of Daewoo Royals' successes in the eighties. He was named in the league’s Best XI three times, won the MVP award in 1991, and Korean Footballer of the Year in 1988. Chung won three league titles and the ACL with Busan, and he was also a stalwart for his country, captaining Korea at the 1990 World Cup and amassing 86 caps.

1. Kim Joo-sung (1987-1999)

Image via Busan IPark
‘Wild Horse’ Kim Joo-sung made over 250 appearances for Daewoo Royals, putting him second in Busan’s all time appearance list. He won three league titles with the club and was named in the K League’s Best XI five times, more than any other Busan player. Among his many accolades, Kim was named Asian Footballer of the Year three years running (1989, 1990, and 1991) and was an ever-present for Korea at three World Cups. Originally a winger, Kim also excelled as a sweeper later in his career, and the number 16 shirt has been retired at the club in his honour. Arguably Busan’s greatest ever player.

Honorable Mentions

Cho Deok-jae (1988-1995) Busan’s current gaffer was a regular in Busan’s midfield in the early nineties, racking up over 200 appearances for the club. His legend continues to grow for Busan after leading them back to the K League 1 in his first season in charge.

Cho Kwang-rae (1982-1987) Considered one of Korea's greatest midfielders, Cho made a century of appearances for his country and won the Korean Footballer of the Year award in 1981. Cho only made 46 appearances for Daewoo Royals, but he was key to the club's early success.

Byun Byung-joo (1983-1989) A key part of Busan’s front line in the eighties, Byun won two titles with the club and scored in both the semi-final and final of Busan’s victorious ACL campaign.

Lee Jae-hee (1983-1992) Full-back Lee made 198 appearances for Busan, winning three league titles and the ACL with the club.

Park Hyun-yong (1987-1995) Defender Park played almost 200 games for Busan, winning two league titles along the way.

Lim Sang-hyub (2011-2014; 2016-2017) Winger Lim was Busan’s most consistent goalscorer in the largely average Busan teams of the 2010s. He made the 2014 K League Best XI despite Busan’s eighth-place finish, and hit double figures in 2011, 2013, and 2014, despite playing predominantly on the left of midfield.

Future Club Legends?

Busan’s current crop of players includes some of Korea’s most exciting young talent. Kim Moon-hwan (24 years old), Lee Dong-joon (23) and Kim Jin-gyu (23) have racked up almost 300 appearances for Busan between them, and could all go on to have stellar careers with the club. 

Others who could cement themselves in club legend include winger Han Ji-ho, who currently ranks third in Busan’s all-time appearance list with 228 games, while former international midfielder Park Jong-woo is third in the club’s assist charts. 24 year-old Brazilian midfielder Rômulo, meanwhile, is already in Busan’s top ten for assists (6th) and goals (9th) despite only being with the club for three years.

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