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Lee Kyu-ro Interview: "I have no regrets about my career"

There aren't too many players out there who can say they have won K League titles with two different clubs. Former full back Lee Kyu-ro can, though, having lifted the trophy with both Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and FC Seoul. Lee also won the FA Cup with Jeonnam Dragons and has played in the AFC Champions League with three different clubs.

His career spanned 16 years and took him from Jeonnam to Incheon United, FC Seoul, Seoul E-Land, FC Pocheon for military service, back to FC Seoul, to Daejeon Hana Citizen, back to Seoul E-Land for a second spell, back to Pocheon for a second spell there, before arriving at his final destination, Gimpo FC. Now 34, Lee has decided to hang up his boots. K League United caught up with the decorated full back to look back on his career and find out what he's up to now.


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Q: How is life after football? What are you doing now?

A: Since I retired I've been doing bits and pieces, working part-time and also going to some construction sites but recently I have been working as a coach for Gimpo U18 so I have been teaching some of the kids at Gimpo FC.

Q: How difficult was it to make the decision to retire? Also, why did you decide to retire now?

A: Right up until last year I had played a lot of games and I was thinking about whether to keep going for another two or three years. My body was fine too but then suddenly the situation made it so that I had to retire suddenly. At first, found it hard to wrap my head around but eventually, I just had to accept the situation. It's a real shame but I did everything I could and I have no regrets.

Q: Looking back what was the proudest moment of your career?

A: I think any footballer when they start out, dreams about representing their country. In 2010, I was selected for the national team and at that time, honestly, I thought I was flying, that's how it felt. I was so proud of myself.

Q: You won the 2007 FA Cup and the 2014 and 2016 K League 1 titles. Where are your medals?

A: They're at home but I haven't decorated a special area for them or anything. They mean an awful lot to me so maybe I should start thinking about making one for them.

Q: Do you have any regrets about your career?

A: Not regrets as such, but throughout my career I picked up a lot of injuries so that's something that I wasn't nice.

Q: Who was the best player you played with?

A: I played with a lot of good players so...

Q: Who was the best forward player you came up against?

A: At Suwon Samsung, Edu when he was in his prime was someone who I'd probably remember to be the best.

Q: You signed for Pocheon in 2022, did you go there hoping that you’d be able to make it back to K League level?

A: I was really desperate for it, I had to get back to the professional level and even trained on my own. Then the coach Kang Chul (former Daejeon assistant manager, current Hwaseong manager) put me in touch with Ko Jeong-woon (Gimpo FC manager) and so things worked out well. I'm very grateful to both of them.

Q: You did well for Gimpo FC, scoring one goal in 17 appearances. Were there any discussions about a new contract?

A: Yes, for sure, the club wanted me to stay and gave me an offer but I made a mistake. On one hand, I wonder why I did that but even if I do regret it, I can't go back so I just have to accept it and then that's when I decided to retire. I will always be grateful to Gimpo FC.

Q: In 2020 you signed for Daejeon Hana Citizen, what was it like signing for a club that had been taken over by a big company and that had a lot of ambition?

A: Having also played for Jeonbuk and Seoul, two big clubs in Korea, after the takeover at Daejeon I was looking forward to it.

[READ: Daejeon's Hana era began three years ago this week]

Q: You started Daejeon’s first match as Daejeon Hana Citizen, a 2-1 away win over Suwon FC. What do you remember most about that match?

A:  "What I remember the most is that I was a founding member of the team and so to be able to play in that game was meaningful."

Q: As it was the first match after Daejeon were re-founded, was there a lot of pressure on the players to win that game?

A: More than the pressure to win, I think professional players definitely want to win, and I don't think anyone goes into the stadium with the thought of losing. And I think we should do our best because there are fans who cheer us on. 


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Read more about what Lee Kyu-ro had to say about playing in Daejeon's first match of the Hana era here.

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