Daejeon Hana Citizen’s midfielder Lee Jin-hyun, born in 1997, had a similar determination evaluation followed like a tag until 2021. ‘He has excellent kicks and techniques using his left foot, but he can’t use them properly’. ‘A player who stands out from moment to moment, but the impact on the game and the season as a whole is disappointing’.

He has already 안전놀이터been recognized for his talent to the extent that he was selected for the A national team in 2018, but it was not long before he was considered a sure starter even in his team. In the meantime, the time to shine passed through Austria Vienna, Pohang, and Daegu. Then, in 2021, Lee Jin-hyun wore a Daejeon uniform and reunited with coach Lee Min-seong, who was with the Asian Games team. 

The 2023 season, when Daejeon returned to K-League 1 after 8 years. Now, Lee Jin-hyun is the most brilliant player in Daejeon, and he is poised to become the ruler who shakes the entire league. Last season, he scored 4 goals and 5 assists in 27 K-League 2 games (added 2 assists in the promotion playoffs), but this season he is posting 3 goals and 4 assists in 9 games in the first division. He is tied for first in assists and tied for first in points on offense. Head coach Lee Min-seong said, “Last season, Jin Hyun-yi opened his eyes to soccer. He made great efforts, synergized well with the team, and built up his confidence, so he is exploding with his performance this season.” 

Lee Jin-hyun, who shows impressive performances in every game in the 2023 season, drew attention once again in the 9th round of the Jeonbuk expedition held on the 26th. In the 28th minute of the second half, in a corner kick situation, the ball kicked strongly with his left foot and was sucked into the Jeonbuk net. It was a unique skill shown by kickers who enjoyed an era in the K-League, such as Shin Tae-yong, Ko Jong-soo, and Hyun Young-min. On this day, JTBC Golf & Sports commentator Kim Hyeong-beom, who also had a knack for kicks, was in charge, and Lee Jin-hyun’s left-footed kick was praised over and over again. It was a scene that would leave a strong impression on national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who came down to Jeonju after a business trip to Europe this morning to watch the match. 

Lee Jin-hyeon explained that it was a goal he was aiming for, just like in the interview after the game. He didn’t practice especially, but his kicking sense has reached its peak now, to the extent that he immediately tried such a scene and scored a goal.

“I haven’t practiced separately before. I tried it on the spot. There are such goals. When the goalkeeper anticipates and comes out, I prefer to hit it with a far post on purpose. It came out as a post, so I wanted to aim for the third one myself, so I kicked it like that.” 

“Of course, the opponent analyzes me and predicts the direction before coming out. I prepare a set piece, but when the situation comes, I look at everyone’s position and make the best choice. I am very confident that I will be able to score more goals.” 

For fans of Daejeon, Lee Jin-hyun’s left-footed skills from last season are vividly remembered. In May 2022, against Busan at home, Lee Jin-hyun scored all 4 goals scored by his team in the second half with his left foot. A goal came from the 3rd round of a corner kick he rolled up from the right (2 assists were recognized), and the last reverse goal was a left-footed shot aiming for the corner calmly in the box. Daejeon, which allowed 3 goals first, won 4-3 with Lee Jin-hyun’s one-man show. Lee Jin-hyun showed more confidence in his current kick sense than before.

“I think my kick sense is the best in my soccer life these days. I have been practicing shooting and kicking since the second half of last year. It has become a habit. I go in. I have to kick 30 and put it in. If I do more than that, it becomes overworked, so I keep that amount of kicks every day.”

A kick that cannot be blocked even if the opponent tries to block it. This is Jinhyun Lee’s current goal. He is not left-footed, but he looks up to Manchester City’s Kevin Debrawiner as a role model. He wants to become a level player who can accurately execute kicks of various pitches depending on the situation and location, just like the eight-color pitcher. The presence of fellow players in the box, such as Yoomin Cho, Thiago, Mindeok Kim, and Minhyeon Gong, who have the right to move and provide good targets for him, is also a driving force for developing kicking confidence.  

“If you look at The Bruyne players, they use various pitches in the right places. Topspin (falling ball), winding kick, no rotation. I want to be a few more ahead. My goal is to freely use all kinds of kicks depending on the situation.”

When was the most ideal moment for Lee Jin-hyun, who has already created several great scenes using his left foot to the extent that a special collection of Lee Jin-hyun was possible this season? It was the Wonder Goal against Suwon that earned the K-League’s Goal of the Month award for the first time this season.

“I liked the kick from Suwon the most. It was the best position for me to take the kick, and the trajectory was right at the right timing. I don’t think any goalkeeper can stop a shot like that.”

Lee Jin-hyun is a player who is growing along with Daejeon. There was also tactical incongruity in his beginnings, but with Joo Se-jong joining last summer, Lee Jin-hyun moved into a position where he could find his offensive talent. From then on, Lee Jin-hyun’s growth accelerated.

“When I first came to Daejeon, I took on the role of distributing the ball from behind rather than attacking. I thought it would be more appropriate to work in a higher attacking area. Since the second half of last year, it has come out well as it blends with the team’s system. Sejong is at the back. I can go out as much as I want because I have a hyung. I can focus on attacking by having someone behind me. I feel relieved. I am not the type who does not defend, so when I return from attack to defense, my teammates buy me time behind me to help each other. It helps.”

Last year, Lee Jin-hyun, who finished the existing three-year contract with Daejeon, aimed to re-enter Europe. It was because he had lingering regrets about not being able to finish on the Austrian stage. He went to Europe in early January and was tested for entry into Poland’s prestigious Legia Warsaw. He went to practice matches and tried to sign up, but he could not win the hearts of the club. At that time, Daejeon actively reached out again. Coach Lee Min-seong said, “Because I know the player’s desire to advance to Europe, I thought it was the first thing for him to draw a clear conclusion about that part. As a result, Jin Hyun-yi came to us with greater motivation and purpose as he went through that experience. I’m back,” he said. Jinhyun Lee had a similar idea. 

“After going back to Europe and training with the players for the first time in a while, I remembered the past. It was a short time, but I think I have matured a bit. I thought the joining test would not be easy. I had to show something through ”, but it’s a pity that my physical condition wasn’t normal. Still, it was a good time, and I promised myself that I would prepare well for the next challenge.”

“I failed to join the team, but I thought a lot. First of all, I had to become physically stronger. I felt that more because I tasted European football for the first time in a long time. Aside from my will to challenge myself, I want to show myself stronger on the pitch. I pay a lot of attention to that at the training ground and during the preparation process.”

“I don’t know what will happen in the future, but if I work hard like now and do well, I want to play in Europe again. Of course, it’s not a stage where I can go right away just because I want to go. will come, I believe.” 

Returning to the A national team is also one of Lee Jin-hyun’s goals. He first joined the A-team in 2018, appearing against Australia, Uzbekistan and Bolivia. His last A-match appearance is a friendly match against Japan in March 2021. Looking forward to his 5th A match appearance, Lee Jin-hyun is still sweating.

“I think I have only had experience before. I went to national team A at the age of 21, 22, and 23, and I definitely had shortcomings. Now I have changed mentally and physically. .I want to show a more developed and mature image compared to the past. The right to select players belongs to the coach, and I want to continue to show good performances in the K-League and get opportunities.”

“Before the game, I heard that coach Klinsman was coming to the stadium, but at that time I started on the waiting list and was not more conscious. I didn’t think it would. The team was winning, so I just thought I’d help.”

Lee Jin-hyun, who is most focused on the present, looks at a higher place with Daejeon, which has become a place of full-fledged growth for him. And he hoped that such growth would give hope to other young players who were stagnant for a moment and unable to find their way out of difficult situations like himself.

“We had a wide rotation against Jeonbuk, and even though we changed about 10 players, the team did well. Daejeon is about being strong as a team, not just one person. I’m sure it will be of great help in reaching this height, and my confidence has also increased.”

“I had a difficult time too. I think most of the times in my soccer life were difficult except for the second half of last year and this season. Even then, I did not give up and studied and worked hard. It made me stronger. If I work humbly toward the goal I want to achieve in the future, I think I will be one step closer to what I want.”

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