South Korea’s Wave in European Football
Full Name: Hwang Hee-chan
Birth Date: 26 January 1996
Place of Birth: South Korea
Playing Years: 2012 to present
Football Club (Current): Hamburger SV
There are very few athletes of Asian heritage are currently playing in the european football scene, and Hamburger SV’s Hwang Hee-chan was one of them.
Hwang was born in Chuncheon in South Korea. At the age of 11, he learned the basics of football in Singok Elementary School in Uijeongbu. In 2008, he participated in the local Hwanrang-Daegi Youth Cup and Dongwon Youth Cup, where he scored 19 goals for his team.
Hwang was signed to the South Korean under-12 national team. He was included in the team that competed in the Kanga Cup, scoring 22 goals, the highest in the cups history. For his outstanding performances as a junior, he was named the grand winner of the 21st Cha Bum-Kun Football Award, and he has not even graduated from elementary school yet.
When Hwang finished his elementary education, he joined the football team at Pohang Jecheol High School, sponsored by the Pohang Steelers and also acts as its under-18 team. He was part of the team that participated in the 2012 AFC U-16 Championship, where he showed off his true skills by netting hat-tricks for the team, leading to its victory over North Korea.
In 2013, Hwang became part of the team that represented his high school in the Adidas All-in Challenger League, where he scored 12 goals across 12 appearances, leading his school to the league’s over-all winner. He was then named top scorer and Most Valuable Player of the same competition.
Pohang Steelers had initially intended to sign Hwang as its very own homegrown player back in 2014. Austrian Bundesliga club FC Red Bull Salzburg, however, turned its head on him, signing him up in a deal, which the Korean player controversially accepted.
In November 2016, Hwang helped Salzburg win in the Europa League, scoring a brace against Nice. During the 2017-18 season, he was part of the team when Salzburg beat Real Sociedad and Borussia Dortmund during the quarterfinals of UEFA Europa League. Within the same season, he scored a goal leading to his team’s 4-1 win against Lazio.
Hwang also participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics playing for his native South Korea. He was also part of the team that competed in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Various clubs have been impressed by the South Korean player’s performances, and have expressed interests in signing him up, including the English club Tottenham FC. 2. Bundesliga club Hamburger SV had also turned its head on him. Salzburg had eventually agreed to loan him to Hamburg for the 2018-19 season.
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