Lee Kang-in Impresses in Competitive Debut for Spanish Club

  • By Lee Tae-dong

    November 01, 2018 10:55

    Teen footballer Lee Kang-in of Spanish club Valencia CF has become the youngest Korean to play at the top level in Europe.

    The 17-year-old midfielder started an away game against CD Ebro in Spain's Copa del Rey (or King's Cup) competition on Tuesday. It was his competitive debut as a professional for the club's senior team, following his appearances in pre-season matches.

    He beat the age record set by Nam Tae-hee of Al-Duhail, who made his top-level European debut with French club Valenciennes FC aged 18 years and 36 days.

    Lee impressed with a long-range shot and an excellent pass before being replaced in the 83rd minute with his team leading 2-1. He is the first Asian and the youngest foreign footballer to play for Valencia's top squad since the club's founding in 1919.

    Lee Kang-in of Valencia CF reacts after scoring a goal in a pre-season match against Bayer Leverkusen in Spain on Aug. 11. /Getty Images

    Lee is often compared with Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur.

    Son started playing at the top level in Europe with Hamburger SV aged 18 years and 3 months in 2010. He scored his first goal in his second game, becoming the youngest footballer to score in the team's some 100-year history. He has since built a successful career and his transfer value is now estimated at more than W100 billion (US$1=W1,140).

    Lee first came to public attention on a TV show featuring aspiring young footballers at the age of 6. He joined Valencia's youth team in 2011 after playing for K-League side Incheon United's youth team. 

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