Sunday , April 21 2024

This is not the end: coach Park

In a meeting with fans and the media, outgoing football coach Park Hang-seo thanked them for their support over the years and said his future plans are in Vietnam.

On Thursday night the much-loved coach, who just ended a successful five-year stint as coach, opened his heart to the gathering.

“Thank you for coming here today. I apologize for not being able to spend much time with the fans. I see many familiar faces here.

“My son sent me a video of a Vietnamese fan drawing me on the sand. It made me emotional. I don’t know if I deserve the love that people gave me. I just know I tried my best.”

He led Vietnam in 98 games, winning 57 (55.8% win rate).

“I just found out today that I had 98 games. If I knew that earlier I would have tried to make it 100,” he joked.

At the meeting were a few dozen selected fans, correspondents and national players Nguyen Hoang Duc and Nguyen Van Toan.

Park said: “There is not a single moment that I regret in my five years of working in Vietnam because I have lived my life to the fullest and I really love the players.”

He turned to Toan and Duc and apologized for not being able to continue as coach.

His contract ended on January 31, but he will stay in Vietnam until June before returning to his country, South Korea.

He reassured the fans however that this is not the end and he would keep coming to Vietnam because he has a house in Hanoi.

Coach Park poses with the fans in the meeting. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

Coach Park poses with the fans in a meeting in Hanoi, February 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

Park then revealed: “I’m planning to open a youth football academy in Vietnam. I will use my experience as a coach in Vietnam and South Korea to contribute to Vietnamese football.”

South Korea and Japan have strong professional football backgrounds and national teams thanks to the development of youth football, and he hoped Vietnam would follow suit, he said.

He explained that his academy would focus on making football a hobby for young people rather than try to make them professional players, and teach them not just football but also life skills.

“Some of them will become excellent players for the national team and clubs, for others football will simply be a hobby they enjoy. My goal is not just to teach them how to play football but also how to become true footballers.”

There have been reports in the international media that Southeast Asia countries like Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand are interested in hiring Park, but he dismissed them.

“The probability of me coaching another team in Southeast Asia is very low. Honestly, in my heart, Vietnam is my second homeland. I said I would consider [the offers] but in fact, in my heart, I have already said no.”

When asked if he had any further advice for the Vietnamese team, he simply said he has discussed everything with the VFF and believed there would be many good coaches who would contribute to Vietnamese football and offer a different vision, strategy and tactics.

He also pleaded with fans to go easy on players plying their trade abroad, pointing out that not everyone is successful overseas, including South Korean players.

“The important thing is what they learn and it’s not just about success.”

Coach Park gets emotional during the meeting. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

Coach Park gets emotional during the meeting. Photo by VnExpress/Hieu Luong

The 65-year-old became emotional and said the love from Vietnamese fans made him the happiest coach in the last five years.

“Honestly, when I first came here in 2017, I didn’t expect to receive such support. I still remember how sad I was when we finished second at the 2018 U23 Asian Cup. But everyone still showed us support. At that time I was more insecure than excited because I have been through many ups and down in life.

I knew that fame could go up in smoke in the blink of an eye, and so was worried that if we did not achieve good results in the next tournament, people will become cold towards us. But the Vietnamese people supported us even when we did not win. That is unconditional love.”

Park’s teams were second in the 2018 AFC U23 Championship, won the 2018 AFF Cup, entered the quarterfinals of the 2019 Asian Cup, and won SEA Games gold medals in 2019 and 2021.

They also advanced to the final of the qualifiers for the World Cup for the first time ever, making Park the most successful coach in the history of Vietnamese football.

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