The South Korean national team, which reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, has two amateur players. Aside from goalkeeper Kim Jung-hoon (19-Korea University), who plays a specialty position, Choi Seok-hyun (20-Dankook University) is the only field player.
Choi has been receiving a lot of attention as a “goal-scoring defender” in the tournament. He scored two goals, both of which were game-winners. In the round of 16 match against Ecuador (3-2 win) on the 2nd (KST), he shook the goal with a header from the left corner kick by Lee Seung-won (Gangwon) in the third minute of the second half. In the quarterfinal match against Nigeria on the 5th, he scored a celestial header in the first five minutes of extra time after a 0-0 tie to lead the team to the fourth place.
He is very small for a center back (1m78). However, he has proven to have excellent soccer sense. He has the ability to overcome opponents in the penalty box, find a gap, soar into the air, and hit the ball on the head. He also has the ability to see the goalkeeper’s balance in the moment and decide his direction. Even his header against Nigeria was a back header.
Former coach Park Ki-wook, who coached Choi during his time at Ulsan Hyundai High School, said, “In high school, he often scored like that in important matches. He had a good jump,” Park recalled.
Above all, his strength is his ‘business’. With his strength, he can’t be pushed by any attacker. Choi Seok-hyun, who has formed a fantastic center-back partnership with Kim Ji-ji (19-Seongnam) in the tournament, saved several goals with his unselfish hustle. Former coach Park Ki-wook said, “Choi Seok-hyun was known for his strength even during his time at Hyundai High School, which is why he was able to play center back despite not being very tall. If he was used as one of the three backs, he would be even better,” Park explained.
“He also has good speed, which is why he can compete with the speed of foreign strikers. In high school, he was good at building up, but there were some parts where he missed, but he has grown a lot at Dankook University.” Choi’s role models are Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro (1m76) 토토사이트 and Spanish ‘goal-scoring defender’ Sergio Ramos (1m84).
In addition, Choi is a “multi-talented” player. A product of Ulsan’s youth system, Hyundai Joong-Hyundai High School, Choi played both center back and fullback in high school. The club paved the way for him to survive in the pros. “His main position was center back, but he also played right fullback, which is why he has a good understanding of tactics and has good passing ability,” Park praised. “His crosses are good and he has strength, so he is a good resource to use tactically. He also has a good pushing movement that can be used as a winger. It can be seen as the style of Ahn Hyun-beom in the K League.”
Thanks to Choi Seok-hyun’s strong performance, the club is expected to make a quick decision on the player’s future. This season, Ulsan has one of the most stable center back lines in the K League with Kim Young-kwon, Jung Seung-hyun, and Kim Ki-hee. They also have a number of center back prospects, including Kim Tae-hyun (23), Lee Sang-hyuk (22), and Lee Jae-won (21). There is a narrow gap for Choi Seok-hyun to squeeze through. A club official said, “We will maintain the status quo this season. However, Choi’s future will be discussed again this winter. There could be a call-up or a loan, and there could be offers from abroad. We will keep various options open and decide where he will stay.”