Ahn Jung-hwan’s Golden Goal. Before the 2002 World Cup, Guus Hiddink, the coach of South Korea, warned the striker that the event would alter his life, and it did.
He was never given much as a child and was raised by his grandmother after losing both of his parents.
He only began playing football as a youngster because his neighborhood club provided its members with milk and bread.
The fact that his post-retirement objectives were modest even after going professional is maybe not surprising.
“I hope I will be managing a small grocery store and just living comfortably.”
Happily, despite not working as a greengrocer, Jung-hwan is doing rather well for himself.
Instead, he has made a name for himself as one of South Korea’s most well-known broadcasters. Even his own YouTube channel is available.
And one of the most well-known goals in one of the most controversial World Cup games is the foundation of his career.
‘The encounter between South Korea and Italy at Daejeon in 2002 may fill a whole book’
The referee, Byron Moreno, is still viewed as one of football’s greatest villains in Italy. For his part, Jung-hwan is famous for his Golden Goal and the pitiful response it elicited from Luciano Gaucci, the president of Perugia.
The striker had just five goals in 30 appearances over the previous two dismal seasons in Serie A. He had really started the World Cup on the bench due to his lack of confidence.
Guus Hiddink, the manager of South Korea, meanwhile, still had complete faith in Jung-hwan. He predicted that the competition would alter his life, and it did.
He scored in the group stage match against the USA after coming off the bench, giving his country a crucial point and earning himself a spot in the starting lineup.
However, his greatest contribution would be made in opposition to his chosen country.
Later, Jung-hwan admitted that he believed Italy had little chance against a team with so many famous players. The round of 16 match, though, brought Korea together unlike any other game before or after.
While the supporters that arrived in Daejeon on June 18, 2002, delighted in reminding the Azzurri of one of their most humbling World Cup failures, the Taeguek Warriors even drew backing from their northern neighbors.
The crowd chanted, “Again 1966,” alluding to Italy’s 38-year-old defeat to North Korea at Goodison Park.”
“Jung-hwan ought to have started the scoring as well, but Gigi Buffon turned aside his early penalty.
Therefore, it seemed like a team that also had Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero, and Paolo Maldini would win easily when Christian Vieri broke the tie.
Giovanni Trapattoni, the notoriously pragmatist coach of Italy, chose to try to force a draw instead.
Azzurri very certainly paid the price when Seol Ki-Hyeon tied the score with two minutes left in regulation.
The criticism of Moreno’s performance at this point, as well as his obvious lack of fitness, only grew after Totti was harshly given a second yellow card for simulation.
The ball was then swung into the Azzurri area with only three minutes remaining before penalties.
Maldini, possibly the best defender of all time, appeared to be the lone victor. But Jung-wan literally got the better of him.
‘The header goal that elevated him to be a national hero’
Later, he disclosed: “In reality, I believed that I had leaped too soon and would not be ready to head the ball. But because I leaped first, Maldini misjudged my jump. That was a very fortunate break for me.”
The conclusion, with Jung-hwan returning home and sending Korea into raptures and Italy into collapse, was anything but fortunate. Jung-hwan quickly rose to prominence.
He said to JoongAng: “I remember that there were a lot of fans patiently awaiting me that I was unable to leave.”
In fact, South Korea rode a wave of elation caused by his Golden Goal all the way to the last four.
However, there was outrage in Italy since many people thought Moreno’s management of the game was proof of match-fixing.
The Gazzetta dello Sport, on the other hand, asserted that this was just the most recent instance of the Azzurri being victimized by FIFA.
But Gaucci concentrated his annoyance on Jung-hwan. He yelled, “That guy will never step foot in Perugia again.” Only during the time he played against Italy was he a phenomenon!
“I am a nationalist, and I see such attitude as an insult to not only Italian dignity but also to the nation that welcomed him two years ago. Someone who has devastated Italian football will not receive a paycheck from me.”
The notoriously unpredictable Gaucci swiftly conceded, but Jung-hwan was clearly upset and accused his boss of cultivating a hostile environment that led to his vehicle being vandalized and local news stories of mafia-related death threats.
He told JoongAng, “It was almost like I had finished my entire football career with just one goal.”
In response to Jung-hwan’s refusal to play for Perugia once more, a complicated contractual disagreement developed.
This is what ended his chances of signing with Blackburn Rovers of the Premier League.
In the end, a Japanese company consented to pay the €3.8 million (£3.3 million/$3.8 million) in compensation Gaucci was seeking.
The forward joined J-League team Shimizu S-Pulse.
Later, he admitted: “If I had appeared in the Premier League, my life might have been different.”
“Although a lot of people have said that they’re thrilled since I was a member of the 2002 squad, and I constantly tell them, no, you made me happy.”
“I believe that $3.8 million was the price I paid for the adoration and respect I received from the public.”
Therefore, Jung-hwan has no regrets, and for good reason. He had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding South Korea-Italy or the subsequent ramifications.
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