In 2023, a soccer star is preparing to overcome personal pain and run with a new heart. The protagonist is Eom Won-sang (24), a striker for Ulsan Hyundai in the professional soccer K League 1 (Part 1). Born in 1999, he made a special resolution in the year of the cat. Eom Won-sang, who recently met with Ilgan Sports in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, said, “I don’t look at New Year’s fortunes. Don’t leave it to ‘luck’. I tend to focus on what I have to do,” he said with a smile. 메이저놀이터
Um Won-sang won the league with his skills last year. He performed as well as the Most Valuable Player (MVP). A graduate of Kumho High School and Ajou University, he made his professional debut in 2019 with a priority selection from Gwangju FC. He transferred to Ulsan in 2022 and completely filled the gap between Lee Dong-jun and Lee Dong-gyeong, who moved overseas. Thanks to Um Won-sang’s performance, in the Year of the Tiger in 2022, the Ulsan Hyundai Tigers team lifted the championship trophy for the first time in 17 years.
It was a ‘rolling fortune’ in Ulsan. Um Won-sang, who played as a striker on the right side, scored 12 goals and 6 assists (33 games). MVP Lee Cheong-yong (3 goals, 2 assists) posted the most offensive points in the team, more than Hungarian striker Martin Adam (9 goals, 4 assists). Out of 12 goals, 6 were the winning goals. Eom Won-sang looked back and said, “I am very happy that I have helped Ulsan to win the championship for the first time in 17 years since 2005 in the first year of transfer.”
Eom Won-sang, who smiled shyly while holding the championship trophy, tasted bitterness ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. There was no name in the final entry released by former national team coach Paulo Bento (Portugal). “I want to go to the World Cup after winning Ulsan,” said Eom Won-sang, lowering his head. So he evaluated 2022 as “good if good, bad if not good” in his football life.
Eom Won-sang said, “Before the announcement of the final list with coach Bento, I sat face-to-face and heard the words, ‘I chose the best I could as a manager’. (At that moment) Of course, I was heartbroken. If you are a soccer player, it is natural that you want to participate in the World Cup. I also wanted to play,” he said. “The right to select players belongs to the coach. I am a player who follows that decision. (After the opening of the Qatar tournament), I cheered my teammates hard.”
He had to gather his heart. He went on a trip to Jeju Island with his family. His friends were also a great help. Lee Kang-in (Mallorca), Cho Young-wook (FC Seoul), and Hwang Tae-hyeon (Seoul E-Land), who were teammates of the 2019 FIFA Under 20 (U-20) World Cup runner-up in Poland. They gathered in Seoul and spent the end of the year together. Eom Won-sang said, “Young-wook is enlisting. He took a picture with a humorous expression to keep as a memory,” he laughed.
Um Won-sang, who participates in Portugal’s field training, is looking at Ulsan’s second consecutive championship. Having contributed to the championship by transferring to the tiger club in the year of the tiger, he is determined to play a leading role in the new year. Um Won-sang said, “I want to keep winning the team while I am in Ulsan. The new year’s goal is to score more goals to help the team and attract more fans to the stadium.”
Eom Won-sang, who over time said that he had overcome the pain of being eliminated from the World Cup final, said, “I have to make up for the (relatively) lack of physique or the ups and downs of my performance. As always, there is no set attack point personally. My goal is to quickly figure out what I can solve for the team’s problems that coach Hong Myung-bo is worried about. I want to give trust to the director.”
Eom Won-sang said, “Re-appointment of the national team is a later issue. First of all, I have to show a good performance in Ulsan so that I can participate in the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup. Ulsan fans have not felt the happiness of winning for 16 years. They cheered us on until the end to see us win. As much as you have waited for a long time, I will run so that you can feel more enjoyable moments.”