“I want to make my professional debut,” says center back Choi Seok-hyun of the [U20 World Cup] quarterfinalists

On the other side of the world from South Korea, the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina is a golden opportunity for young talent to make a name for themselves on the world stage.

Current stars such as Lionel Messi 스포츠토토 (Inter Miami) and Elling Holland (Manchester City), who starred in the English Premier League (EPL) last season, have played in the tournament, while Lee Kang-in (Mallorca) made his mark at the previous edition in 2019, where he was named the Most Valuable Player after leading South Korea to its first-ever runner-up finish.

Coming into the tournament, the South Korean team was criticized for not having the same star power as Lee four years ago, but after reaching the quarterfinals for the second consecutive time, there are players emerging who could be considered “the future.

Center back Choi Seok-hyun (Dankook University) is one of them.

Initially, Kim Ji-soo (Seongnam), who had already attracted European attention, was considered the main player in Kim Joong-ho’s defense, but Choi Seok-hyun stepped up to the plate, scoring back-to-back goals in the round of 16 against Ecuador and the quarterfinals against Nigeria and contributing to a stable defense.

Speaking to the team in La Plata, Argentina, on Sept. 9 (local time) as they recovered from their semifinal loss to Italy, Choi described the tournament as “a great opportunity to showcase myself and improve.”

Choi, who has rewatched his goals so many times that his roommate Kim Ji-soo jealously told him to “stop watching” them, still lamented the previous day’s semifinal loss (1-2), but also pointed out his achievements.

“I lost the initial power battle,” he said, “but I think I got to know the type of players I was playing against and I was able to play them easily.

Having gained valuable experience through the big tournament, his next step is to become a professional.

Choi Seok-hyun, who played for Ulsan Hyundai Middle and High, the youth team of the K League 1 Ulsan Hyundai, has been playing for Dankook University since receiving Ulsan’s priority pick last year.

As the only ‘university student’ on the team, he expressed his ambition: “When I return to Korea, I want to make my professional debut.”

With only the final game of the tournament, the third-place match against Israel (2:30 a.m. KST on Dec. 12), left to play, he emphasized, “I want to do my best and finish with a smile on my face because it’s my last time with my friends who have been preparing together since last year. I will prepare well as I have been doing so far.”

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