Jang Dae-il. A former center back who played for the South Korea men’s national team. He first wore the colors in the late 1990s, and even participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. Being a World Cup defender means that Jang was one of the best defenders representing South Korea at the time.
But one day, Jang Dae-il walked away from soccer. Literally. South Korea’s first mixed-race national team player, Jang Dae-il, who was also known for his good looks, suddenly stopped playing soccer. What has he been doing with his time?
On March 13, Jang Dae-il was spotted at the Changpo Haejeong Stadium in Yeongdeok-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Jang participated as a coach in the 2023 Farmers’ Youth Advanced Soccer Experience. He was spotted holding the ball close to his body after being far away from it. Above all, his expression was very bright. Jang Dae-il shared the latest news with reporters who visited the site.
“I was nostalgic for the field, but I lived for more than 10 years without thinking about soccer, but last year, I went to a gathering of former national team members to play soccer. I hadn’t played soccer for the last five years, but it was the first time I kicked a ball in a long time,” he said.
Jang continued, “That was the trigger. It was a game for players until the 1998 FIFA World Cup, so I was the youngest, but my seniors were all playing so well. I thought, ‘Hey, I can’t do this.’ I lost 10 kilograms after that. I’m still losing weight now. When I saw the seniors playing, I thought, ‘This is what I really wanted to do. ‘Soccer is what I really wanted to do, but I’ve been wasting my time.'”
So Jang Dae-il contacted commentator Lee Sang-yoon. He asked if there was any way he could get back into soccer, and with the advice of those around him, Jang Dae-il is on his way back into the world of soccer. “I used to do business, but after my passion for soccer came back, I called my seniors in the soccer world, and now I want to be a coach. “I got my Class C license as a senior. Next year, I’m going straight to B-level. I’m going to try to make it all the way to Class A at once,” he said of his future plans.
Jang Dae-il’s name comes up whenever mixed-race athletes like Kang Soo-il and Casey Fair are mentioned. Jang was the first mixed-race athlete to be selected for South Korea’s national team. “I didn’t know about Casey Fair,” Jang said, noting that she hadn’t even noticed her name popping up online recently. “Being a mixed-race student, I had a hard time in school. But when I became a member of the national team, there was no such thing. The seniors were good to me at that time,” he recalled.
Jang Dae-il still remembers his participation in the World Cup in France as an honor. He also shared a secret story.
“It was a dream stage. I still remember it. I didn’t play (laughs). There’s a story behind it. After we lost to Mexico and the Netherlands, coach Cha Bum-geun called me into his room. He said, “You’ve come this far, do your best, show it in the next game,” and then he left. It was a shame because it was my last chance to play.”
Jang Dae-il, who effectively left the soccer world in the early 2000s, has been quite distant from soccer people ever since. He had seen coach Cha Bum-geun from afar, but hadn’t been able to say hello. Jang felt embarrassed and apologetic at the time. Still, Jang Dae-il said, “I would like to meet him at least once,” showing his love for Eunsa.
Jang Dae-il realizes that it’s too late, but he doesn’t want to hold on to his regrets anymore. “I’m late. I regret it. I don’t have any debts, but I lost a lot of money in business, and when I retired from soccer, I retired when it wasn’t the right time to retire,” he said, adding, “I think about what it would have been like if I had woken up 10 years ago. But I’m still trying to do it now,” he said, revealing his burning desire to play soccer. 스포츠토토
Dae-il’s goal is to have a job teaching kids how to play soccer. “Even if I make it to the A-level, I want to teach kids first, maybe from elementary school. I enjoy teaching elementary school students. Even though I’m not married, I feel like a son when I teach elementary school children. In fact, I don’t think the big players will listen to me (laughs),” he said, adding, “This happened recently when I was teaching elementary school students. The kids asked me, “Who is your teacher?” So I told them, “Look me up on Naver.” They came to me the next day and asked for my phone number (laughs). I was proud of myself. “I even got a message from an elementary school student,” he bragged, saying that he is living a happy life these days.
After the interview, Jang Dae-il ran straight to the kids. He seemed genuinely happy to share what he was best at, soccer, with the children. Jang Dae-il is a ‘World Cup representative’ who returned to soccer late in life. With his newfound passion, it will be interesting to see if he can be a good teacher.