Professional soccer’s K League 1 Gangwon FC is smiling after Lee Seung-won’s (pictured) stellar performance at the U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023. For Gangwon, the tournament reaffirmed their reputation as a “nurturing ground for young stars,” while also allowing them to use Lee as a resource for future league rotations.안전놀이터
The Gangwon midfield hopeful scored a goal and provided an assist in a 2-1 win over France in their first group game of the tournament. Lee, who is also the captain of the U-20 national team, spearheaded the counterattack with a high volume of activity. “I ran with all my might, and (Kim) Yong-hak saw it well and gave me the ball, so I could easily finish one-on-one,” he said in a post-match interview with the Korea Football Association.
Lee first came to prominence in 2021, when he won the Most Valuable Player award at the National High School Games while still in the third grade at Deokyung High School. He received a direct offer from a professional team, but in October of that year, he fractured his toe at the national championships. Despite his successful rehabilitation, he was unable to go straight to the pros.
Lee went to Dankook University to pursue a professional career. From his freshman year, he became the starting midfielder and started 10 games. He was a very active player, running at least 12 kilometers per game, as well as an excellent passer, making him a valuable link in the offense.
Gangwon recognized his potential and signed him earlier this year. Gangwon was so proactive that scouts and even former South Korean president Lee Young-pyo came to watch Lee play. Although he has yet to make his professional debut, Lee has been such a dominant presence on the U-20 national team that his presence or absence has affected their performance. Before the start of the U-20 World Cup, Gangwon kept Lee in the K4 League with the B team to keep him in game shape.
With winger Yang Hyun-jun, who won the K League 1 Young Player of the Year award last year, and midfielder Lee Seung-won fulfilling their potential, Gangwon sees hope for a thicker squad. Head coach Choi Yong-soo saw an opportunity to utilize Lee in April when he dropped him to the substitutes’ bench against Gwangju FC and FC Seoul.
Gangwon has struggled recently, going winless in four league games (1-3) and slipping to 11th place due to injuries to key players and a lack of rotation resources. In the midst of their long slump, Gangwon also welcomed back striker Lee Jung-hyeop, who has been rehabbing since tearing the lateral and posterior ligaments in his left knee in March. Lee’s return will be welcome.