Kim Bo-kyung, a midfielder for Cerezo Osaka in Japan's J League, is being touted by Korean football fans as a likely successor to former Korea captain and current Manchester United star Park Ji-sung. Park himself even mentioned Kim's name when he was asked to pick a promising footballer who could fill his shoes at a press conference announcing his retirement from the national team last year.
Kim is a versatile player equally at ease on both wings as well as in central midfield. However, this ability to make a nuisance of himself all around the pitch is just one of numerous ways in which he resembles Park.
They also share a physical likeness. Kim's pimple-marked face is reminiscent of how Park looked when he was in his early twenties. Their physique is almost identical, with both standing 178cm tall and weighing 73 kg. And they had similar experiences growing up. Park ate frog broth to stimulate his growth while Kim ate various kinds of invigorating food supplied by his father.
Kim's father said, "I fed him practically anything edible, from eels to terrapins. Perhaps all that effort paid off as Bo-kyung grew much taller in high school."
Park made a name for himself internationally during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and Kim may get the same opportunity in a few months' time at the London Games. But when Park went to Australia he was still a relatively obscure player nestled among the national team.
In contrast, Kim is already an ace on the Olympic team led by manager Hong Myung-bo. He scored twice and led the team to the quarterfinals during the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, when Hong made his managerial debut at an international level. Kim also eased the pressure on the team during the final stage of the preliminary qualifiers for the London Olympics by scoring goals at crucial moments.
Kim, who racked up eight goals last season, is now the second-top scoring player in the J League with six goals –- no mean feat for a right winger. He has been recently focusing on solo shooting drills after team training in preparation for the Olympics.
"I dream about playing in London with my friends on the team, and I hope to make some unforgettable memories this summer," he said.