Ki Sung-yueng Becomes 10th Korean to Join English Premier League

      August 22, 2012 09:51

      Ki Sung-yueng takes a free-kick in his first match with Scottish outfit Celtic in January 2010. /Reuters

      English Premier League club Swansea City and Scottish outfit Celtic have agreed on transfer terms for Ki Sung-yueng, major British media including the BBC and Sky Sports reported on Tuesday (Korean time). Swansea are expected to soon finalize details of the contract with Ki's agent.

      Swansea will pay 6 million pounds (W10.6 billion), the largest transfer fee ever recorded for a Korean footballer, according to the reports. The previous high was 5 million pounds (W8.8 billion), which Arsenal paid for Park Chu-young when he moved from AS Monaco last year.

      Ki will become the 10th Korean to play in the EPL. Park Ji-sung of Queens Park Rangers was the first to join the coveted league in 2005 when he signed with Manchester United. He blazed a trail that was later followed by Lee Young-pyo, Seol Ki-hyeon, Lee Dong-gook, Kim Do-heon, Cho Won-hee, Lee Chung-yong, Ji Dong-won and Park Chu-young.

      Ki has long dreamed of playing in England's top-flight league. When he moved from FC Seoul to Celtic in Glasgow in 2009, he said, "I want to play in the English Premier League after putting in a good performance at Celtic." At the time, Liverpool was known to be his favorite team and top choice.

      Ki quickly settled into life at Celtic, starting in the midfield and scoring 11 goals in 85 games in three seasons. It was during the recent London Olympics that he really stood out, however.

      "Scouts from all teams in the EPL watch the Olympics, so I thought that if I played well, I may get offers from better teams," he said.

      Ki started playing the football when he was an elementary student, and went to Australia for four years in middle school and high school to learn English as well as improve his skills on the pitch. He was chosen as a member of the national team in September 2008 at the age of 19, thanks to his powerful long-range kicks, accurate passing and shooting, and height of 191cm, which also makes him a menace for defenders in the air.

      Ki said in a TV program recently, "My goal as a football player is to play 200 games in Europe, three World Cups, two Olympics, and two Asian Cups. I want to retire when I'm 30, and do something other than football, like studying psychology."

      Fortunately, he is already halfway there.

      "As I was exempted from military service after winning an Olympic bronze medal, I need to change my plans a bit [because I will now have more time to play football, or pursue something else]. I'll work harder to play on a bigger stage," said Ki.

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