“I think I’ve been playing football for a long time thanks to the number 41.”
Kim Yeong-kwang (40), the starting goalkeeper of Seongnam FC in the ’22nd year’, recalled memories of his uniform number ’41’. Kim Young-kwang, who started his pro career with the Jeonnam Dragons in 2002, is a veteran of the K-League for안전놀이터 over 20 years. He went through Ulsan Hyundai, Gyeongnam FC and Seoul E-Land, and has been guarding the Seongnam goal since 2020. He even wore the national team uniform. There are countless memories of his rookie days, but there is one precious memory that even Kim Young-kwang, now in his 40s, cannot forget.
It is his uniform number ’41’. On the 2nd, Kim Yeong-kwang, who is in training in Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do, said, “When I first came to the pros, my uniform number was 41. I think I was able to play soccer for a long time thanks to the memory of number 41. At that time, there were 4 goalkeepers. I was given number 1, number 21, number 31 and number 41. I gave number 41.”
Number 41 was the highest among the four uniform numbers. This meant that he was the team’s fourth goalkeeper. To put it bluntly, it was a ‘candidate uniform number’. Kim Young-kwang explained, “So I gnawed my teeth. I worked hard thinking that I would make number 41 the starting number. So I made it the starting number in a year and a half. Keeping that mind in mind, I played one game at a time, so I came all the way here.”
The driving force behind the long run was the ‘desire to win’. Kim Young-gwang said, “If you don’t have the desire to compete, you can’t survive in the pro world. You have to compete even within the same team, because only 11 players can compete. “I think director Lee Ki-hyung reminds me of that part well,” he said.
A record of ‘participating in 600 games’ was also put in front of the game. So far, Kim Young-kwang has played 588 games, which is the second most in K-League history. If there are no surprises, he will complete this year’s record. For reference, the record for the most appearances in the K-League is held by legendary goalkeeper Kim Byeong-ji, the new representative of Gangwon FC. He appeared in a total of 706 games.
However, Kim Young-kwang said, “I don’t care too much about the record. I always have to compete.” He thought of the team first, saying, “It’s good to play, but I can’t. As a senior, I want to tell you a lot.”
He said, “I hate scoring goals more than that. It’s always a goal scoring position, but I’m working hard to avoid scoring as much as possible. Until I take off my gloves, that’s my biggest goal. There is a difference between being eaten because of lack of ability. I am trying my best not to be eaten because of my lack of ability.”
The biggest goal to achieve next season is, of course, promotion. Seongnam experienced the pain of being relegated to the second division last year. All Seongnam players are sweating hard to quickly return to the first division. ‘The best’ Kim Young-kwang has a lot of work to do. In addition to fierce competition for starting positions, you have to lead your junior players.
Fortunately, the fighting spirit and passion of the players are burning. Kim Young-kwang, who was surprised by the willingness of his juniors, said, “We are having the most difficult winter training than any other year. You will feel it. I also say, ‘Right now, the hardships become bones and flesh’.”