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Interview: FC Seoul's Willyan Barbosa - "I've always thought about the team"


Willyan Barbosa, having made a permanent switch to the capital, says the first order of business at FC Seoul is to get the club back into the top six and then challenge for titles. The Brazilian also says that the proposition to join a club that represents South Korea was too good to turn down.

FC Seoul's first piece of transfer business ahead of the 2024 season was the permanent signing of Brazilian winger Willyan Barbosa from Daejeon Hana Citizen following a successful loan spell, putting pen to paper just before Christmas.

Willyan proved to be an important player for Seoul when called upon, scoring eight and assisting two in 29 appearances last year, including winners against Gangwon FC and Suwon Bluewings. 

The 29-year-old has now returned from Brazil for pre-season training under new manager Kim Gi-dong. 

Speaking exclusively to K League United, Willyan responds to the suggestion that he's not a team player, what his aims are in an FC Seoul shirt, what it takes to settle in Korea, and much more.

How do you feel about making the move to FC Seoul permanent?

"I'm very happy to be staying at FC Seoul. It's what I wanted from the beginning when I was welcomed by the coaching staff, players and fans. I feel at home here. My family and I are happy and I hope to stay here for longer."

What happened at Daejeon? Why move clubs just six months after joining?

"I received FC Seoul's offer of a loan and didn't hesitate to accept. We know how big the club is, how much this club represents South Korea. Everyone knows about FC Seoul, even outside Korea. In Brazil, people recognize FC Seoul. That's why I came here."

Would you say you are a team player? There had been some suggestion that perhaps you aren't. Is this unfair?

"I think it's unfair to say this. At all the clubs I've played for here in Korea, I've made great friends and I've always thought about the team. Football is a team sport, if one wins, everyone wins, just as if one loses, everyone loses. My focus is always on helping the club together with my teammates."

You scored some wonderful goals for FC Seoul last year. Which one was your favourite?

"I think the most beautiful was against Suwon (Bluewings) because it was a derby. It was the one I liked the most because of the complexity of the move."

What do you hope to achieve with FC Seoul?

"Unfortunately, FC Seoul has had four difficult years, finishing in Final B. Our main goal is to finish in the top six and get back to playing for titles."

Where does the nickname 'Super Crack' come from and what does it mean?

"I don’t know where the nickname 'Super Crack' comes from, but it was given to me here at FC Seoul in the first few games. The fans started calling me 'Super Crack' and that's how it's stayed. It's not easy having that nickname, because everyone expects a lot from me on the pitch, with goals, assists, dribbles, and I hope to repay that nickname this season."

You have been in Korea for a few years now and have played for four different teams. What's the most important thing a foreign player needs to do when trying to settle in and adapt to K League?

"This will be my sixth year in Korea. It's not easy being in a country that has a totally different culture to Brazil, but it's a country that my family and I love. I want to be here for longer. It's a country where my daughter was born and I want her to learn the culture here. But I think that at the moment, the most difficult thing for foreign players is food, which is the hardest thing to adapt to. Otherwise, it's not difficult."

The foreign player rules have changed in K League. Now there are 5+1 spots available, this means that some foreigners will have to be on the bench. What's this like? Does it add any extra pressure?

"I don't think it changes much, because last year we had five foreigners and we could only play three on the pitch and two on the bench. But the rule doesn't change much for us, the most important thing is to know who the foreigners are who will help us and adapt quickly."

What's communication like on the field and in training your teammates?

"Communication is very smooth and easy. Most of the players speak English, so when we can't communicate we call a translator. But we're more concerned with focusing on winning games."

At Gwangju, Gyeongnam, and Daejeon you had another Brazilian teammate with you but at FC Seoul you haven't. Has this made an impact? Would you like one? 

"Yes, I've had Brazilian teammates in other teams, and I'd like to have one at FC Seoul. I think it's different having a Brazilian on the pitch to help out. But also if there isn't one, it doesn't have that much of an impact, because we have to be focused on the game. We have other foreigners here at the club who have helped me adapt as quickly as possible."

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