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"Football without fans is nothing": Valentinos Sielis Interview

Busan IPark started its journey with Park Jin-sub after Ricardo Peres was sacked. While Park's Busan seemed fresh in the first few rounds, the Royals then failed to score and win for seven games. However, Busan is trying not to have the same nightmares as before after a precious 1:0 win against Seoul E-Land recently. Dowon Lee interviewed Busan IPark's veteran Valentinos Sielis.

Dowon Lee: Could you introduce yourself to the K League United viewers and P.O.P fans?

Valentinos: Hello, anyeonghaseyo. My name is Valentinos. I've been a player of Busan for the last one and a half years.

DL: It's been about six years since you played in the K League, and you have been through three Korean clubs. If so, I can guess that life in Korea is quite satisfying for you. How is your life in Korea?

Valentinos: It's my sixth season this year in Korea, and my life has been amazing here. I really enjoyed my time here, and I still do. My wife and my kids are also enjoying it, and we feel at home. So yeah, I'm looking forward to staying here even more if I can.

DL: How is your son doing? Is he growing well?

Valentinos: Yes, my son is. He's growing every single day. He's currently going to a Korean nursery school. So he has changed so much. He's starting to speak Korean. He greets people in Korean. He even bows his head. So, yeah, he's learning a lot from that school.

DL: Who is the closest player in the team with you?

Valentinos: It's natural that foreign players are always together. So I'm always close to Domagoj Drožđek, Ryan Edwards and Bruno Lamas, but I have a very good relationship with all the players. I don't want to name them, but I am close to everyone.

DL: As I said in the previous question, it's been six years since you came to Korea, and you're famous among the K league fans as a foreign player who can speak Korean well. How much time do you usually spend studying Korean? And are there any tips for foreigners when learning Korean?

Valentinos: Well, I have learned how to read, write and speak through YouTube. I sat down one day and I decided that I needed to learn in order to how to make my life a bit easier. And at this moment, I can understand more than I can speak. But I think all foreigners, if they have a target, to stay here for a long time, then learning Korean would be the first and biggest step for them to advance and stay in the league for longer. It will help them and their families also in their life.

DL: When Ricardo Peres was the manager, there were a few players on the team who were called veterans, and you were one of them. Wasn't it difficult to lead young players as a veteran player, especially as a foreign veteran?

Valentinos: Well, like I said, this is hard because I cannot speak fluent Korean, and it's not very easy to have a full conversation with Korean young players. Most of them don't speak very good English. So that was the hard part. But I wouldn't say it's hard in the heartbeat was tactical and the playing wise, not talking and leading the players. I would say we had a tough season, and yeah, I think this year is showing that we are not doing very well, but we just have to keep working hard.



DL: When Busan faced Daejeon on May 17th, after you were substituted because of the injury, Busan suffered a dramatic 3-4 defeat. Also, I heard you spent over two months in rehabilitation because of that injury. I reckon this must have put you under a lot of stress. How did you deal with these kinds of situations?

Valentinos: Well, it's a horrible experience for me. I remember in that game, not just me, I'm sure everybody in the club when remembering that game, had goosebumps, and I remember regretting going to the set piece to score that goal. And I made it three zero, and I got injured. I was at home telling my wife I wish I didn't go because I remember last year against Bucheon we were winning two zero, and I tried to go in front in 89 minutes, then I broke my ribs, and I stayed out for two months.

So I was telling my wife, I just wish I didn't go forward, and I didn't score that goal and just help my club win that game. Because I think that game was a very, very important game for us and it showed how we were going to do in the league and like you said, I was out for two months and when I came back, I found a new coach, new team, new players, everything was new here.

We were already at the last position at the table, and we lost many games. And that was the worst part for me, being unable to help my club while I was injured.           

DL: After the previous coach, Ricardo Peres, was sacked, Park Jin-sup was appointed as the new head coach of Busan, and many new players were signed into the club. Busan has undergone many changes since July, but what do you think has changed the most compared to the previous head coach?

Valentinos: Well, Korean coaches have a different approach to the players. First of all, I just want to say I'm grateful that I worked with Ricardo Peres. He's the coach who brings me here. I have nothing wrong and nothing against him. This is football. Sometimes we do well, and sometimes we don't. And yeah, life goes forward. And like you said, many new players have come with the new coach.

Park Jin-sub has a different approach from Ricardo Peres. He tried from the day he came until now, he's just trying to give us what we need to do in the tactic that he wants in every game. And I would say that's why we are not still not doing 100%, because we are a new team, new players, and we're still trying to get to know each other. So after the last win, I think now we understand how the coach wants to play and how personally each player is playing.                                                           

DL: After the head coach was changed, the result of the team was quite good, but it seems debatable to be completely satisfied with Busan's current result. However, in terms of defence, many people agree that it has improved a lot. So is there any difference in the tactical training regarding this part?

Valentinos: When Mr Park Jin-sub came to our team, the most important thing that he was working on was the defence. So he tried to show us how we needed to defend against the opponent. Also, how is their style of attack we are getting better, but still, we are not 100%. And I think we are improving game by game, and I still believe we have more to give and more to show on the pitch.

DL: Considering the current table and position of the team, it is more realistic to set promotion as a goal for next year and this kind of atmosphere formed within the team?

Valentinos: We know it's very hard this year to get promoted, especially being in the last position, far away from the top five clubs. I wouldn't say this is what we say in the team, in the club. What we are seeing is every single game different. We just go to win every single game, and we will see how it goes in the end.

DL: Many players were signed into the team during the summer transfer window. How is the organisation of the team? I wonder if the problems with the adaptation of the new players have all been resolved.

Valentinos: Of course, when you have new players coming in, you need time to adapt in a new club, to a new strategy of the coach. So I would say this is why the reason we are not doing and getting the results, we are not consistent. This is the word I want to use. But if we give time this season, I'm pretty sure next year the team will do well.

DL: I am curious about your goals for this year and next year and also your goal as a football player at Busan IPark.

Valentinos: First of all, I just want to be healthy. I don't want to get injured again because when you are injured, you cannot help your club you cannot help yourself and cannot play in the game. The goal for next year. I don't know what I'm going to do. We will see. I'm going to speak with my club here in general, with my agent and my wife, and we will see what we have next season.

DL: Finally, any words to K League United fans and P.O.P fans?

Valentinos: To Busan fans and P.O.P fans, I want to say a huge thank you and a huge jwesonghamnida [sorry]. because this year it was a very bad season for Busan, and they've been there for us. They come and support us even though we're not doing well. They always clapped and cheered for us. And I just want to say sorry again that we are not giving them happiness and smile on their face. But I hope next season, and in these remaining games, we give them what they deserve.

To K League fans and K League United fans, a huge thank you for supporting all the players and all the teams. Please come in and help your club, the club that you support. Because like I always say, K League and in general, football without their fans is nothing.

DL: Thank you.

Valentinos: Thank you so much.

Listen to the full interview audio on the upcoming K League United Podcast or hear it now along with other player interviews before everyone else by subscribing to our Patreon here.

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