Lee Seung-woo to commentate for SBS in Qatar
Suwon FC midfielder Lee Seung-woo is headed to Qatar, but not in the capacity the 24-year-old had hoped for. Korean broadcaster SBS announced Tuesday that the former Hellas Verona player has joined their commentating team for the 2022 World Cup.
The announcement comes as yet another chapter in the Lee Seung-woo saga that has seen the young midfielder, once known as the “Korean Messi” and considered the country’s top prospect, fall from rising European star to a humble hometown hero with no invitation to national team training.
Lee has been capped 11 times with the national team and, at 20 years old, was a member of the Korean squad at the 2018 Russia World Cup. But Lee, who has one assist and no goals to show for his international career so far, has not been called up since 2019.
Lee’s absence from the national squad coincided with a tumultuous period in his league career.
Lee returned to Korea in November last year after his contract with Belgian club Sint-Truiden was terminated, leaving him without a European club for the first time since he was 12 years old. On Dec. 3 he signed with K League club Suwon FC, joining the domestic league for the first time in his career with his own hometown team.
Lee is a product of the Barcelona football academy and was once considered a footballing prodigy.
But despite a strong youth career — Lee appeared for Korean youth teams across a number of tournament and was MVP of the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship — Lee’s transition to the adult game has not been smooth.
After years in the Barcelona academy, the closest Lee got to the top flight was a single appearance with the B team before he moved to Hellas Verona on a four-year deal.
In 2019, Lee joined Belgian side Sint-Truiden. In Belgium, he was given even fewer opportunities, making his debut four months after he joined the club.
Lee spent most of last year on loan to Portuguese side Portimonense, where he made just six appearances.
When Lee returned to Suwon in December last year he had a lot to prove, but he quickly rose to the challenge. He finished the 2022 K League season with 14 goals and three assists, enough to gain the attention of Scottish club Heart of Midlothian, who reportedly attempted to sign him over the summer.
But while Hearts were interested, Lee’s efforts were apparently not enough to catch the attention of Korea manager Paulo Bento.
“I want to go to Qatar and cheer for my brothers,” Lee was quoted as saying by SBS in reference to the other national team players.
Lee expects both his experience at the Russian World Cup and his age to help his fledgling commentating career, saying that he understands what young Koreans are interested in and he is confident that he can make it fun for them.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]