“Seung-ho, just do what you want to do, don’t worry about anything, just have fun playing soccer.”
That’s how Baek Seung-ho (26, North Korea), captain of the Hangzhou Asian Games soccer team, ended a personal blog he wrote in June, titled “My Teenage Years as I Remember Them,” in which he discussed how difficult it was for a teenage prospect in middle school to deal with the publicity and media criticism. He stayed away from the internet and avoided interviews. He said he grew up early in a stressful life where he was always careful about what he said and did. After making his A-match debut against Iran in June 2019, he broke down in tears when talking about his mom. It’s a glimpse into how much he and his family have been going through.
At the age of 26, Baek Seung-ho has been through a lot. He joined FC Barcelona’s youth team in 2010 after playing for Daedongcho and Matanjung, and the first thing he heard was, “Let’s change your position from striker to midfielder”. For Baek Seung-ho, who loves to dribble and is a good goal scorer, it was like a crystal ball. In 2013, just as he was gaining confidence and adapting to his new role as a midfielder, Baek Seung-ho was suspended from official competitions by the International Football Federation (FIFA). He was suspended by FIFA for violating a rule that requires foreign players under the age of 18 to live locally with their parents. As a result, Baek Seung-ho, along with Lee Seung-woo and Jang Eun-hee, who grew up together in Barcelona, were banned from official competitions until 2016. He lost three years of his life during the most crucial years of his development. Then, at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in his home country, he was thrashed by Portugal in the round of 16, leaving him in tears. It was a tournament that reminded him of his lack of professional experience.
After his suspension was lifted, Baek had a brief stint with Barcelona’s B team but failed to make his first-team debut before moving to Girona in 2017. It wasn’t until January 2019, at the age of 21, that he made his official debut for the Spanish senior team. Coincidentally, it was against Barcelona in the Spanish Primera Liga. Paik spent the next two seasons with Girona and Darmstadt (2019-2021).
The trials were not over. Baek missed the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to injury. He watched from afar as his peers excelled on the international stage and received special military service. When he returned to the K League from Europe in 2021, he was accused of violating an agreement with Suwon Samsung. The process of growing up and joining the team was not a smooth one. After being cut from the final roster for the Tokyo Olympics, he said, “When something ends, there’s always a new beginning. It’s always been that way, and it’s another day I don’t want to forget.”
After experiencing growing pains at a young age, Baek Seung-ho’s career took off after joining Jeonbuk. He quickly became one of the best midfielders in the league under former Jeonbuk coach Kim Sang-sik. His performances earned him a regular spot in the national team, and he scored a goal in the round of 16 against Brazil at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 소닉카지노
At the age of 26, Baek Seung-ho was one of the first to be selected for the Armed Forces Athletic Corps this year. He is set to join Gimcheon Commerce in December, and his dream opportunity has arrived. Asian Games head coach Hwang Sun-hong selected Baek Seung-ho as a wild card along with Park Jin-seop (Jeonbuk) and Seol Young-woo (Ulsan), not only as the “core of the midfield,” but also as the captain’s armband. He was the key to Korea’s quest for a third consecutive Asian Games soccer gold medal. “Winning a gold medal would be a turning point,” said Baek Seung-ho, who traveled with the team to Hangzhou for the final on Nov. 16. The ‘crybaby’ Baek Seung-ho now wants to shed tears of joy and celebration.