Ulsan striker Lee In-gyu, 33, a two-time Korean top scorer (Jeju in 2021 and Ulsan in 2023), revealed his “transcendental mindset” when he was selected for the national soccer team.
In the final match of the 38th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 Final A against Jeonbuk Hyundai at Munsu Stadium in Ulsan on March 3, Jeon started the match and was replaced by Martin Adam in the 20th minute without any offensive points.
Despite being unable to find the back of the net in the final match, Injongyu became the top scorer with 17 goals this season.
His rival Thiago tied him with 17 goals, but with less playing time, the title of top scorer was awarded to Injongyu.
As a result, it was two years since he first won the title in 2021, when he scored 22 goals in a Jeju uniform.
Notably, In-Joo became only the fifth player in the history of the K League to win the title more than once.
Previously, only four players – Yoon Sang-chul (1990-1994), Lee Ki-geun (1988-1991), Kim Do-hoon (2000-2003) and Dejan (2011-2012-2013) – had won the title more than once.
In addition, In Jong-kyu became the first Korean goalie in 20 years and only the fourth in history to win the title twice.
“It’s a great day for me to beat rival Jeonbuk in the final match of the regular season and celebrate the championship ceremony,” he said with a smile in the post-match press conference.
In 2019, the striker left Eland for Ulsan, but after scoring just five goals in 28 games, he moved to Jeju in 2020.
After winning his first individual top scorer title with Jeju in 2021 with 22 goals, he was tied with Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan) with 17 goals last year, but missed out on the top scorer title for the second year in a row due to his high playing time.
This year, after moving to Ulsan, the situation was reversed, and he won the top scorer’s title for the second time in his career.
He said he knew he was going to be the top scorer, especially after watching Thiago’s game the day before.
When asked if he watched Thiago’s game, he said, “Of course I did. Yesterday was my mother’s birthday, so I had lunch with my parents, so I didn’t see the first half of the game, but after I went to the restroom, my parents’ faces were stiff, so I thought, ‘Something’s wrong,'” he said, explaining, “After the game, I knew he was the top scorer, so I prepared for today’s game with peace of mind.”
“Four years ago, Ulsan also wanted to win the championship, but it didn’t happen, and I was transferred to Jeju,” he said. “When I came back to Ulsan, I had the desire to lift the trophy. I’m glad I did.”
When asked what it means to be the top scorer as a striker, he said, “It’s a feeling of being recognized as a striker. The difference between being a top scorer and not is huge. I worked tirelessly to become a top scorer,” he said, emphasizing that it is a reward that allows him to grow to the next level.
He added, “I worked hard last year because no domestic player has been awarded the top scorer for two consecutive years,” and said, “I am happy to be the first striker to be awarded the top scorer twice in 20 years after Coach Kim Do-hoon.”
“At my age, I don’t care anymore,” said Inhabigyu, who won the top scorer’s award but was not called up by the national team manager.
“In fact, every player dreams of playing for the national team. The reason I was never complacent was because the title of national team was my motivation,” he said, adding, “One day, with hard work and humility, I will be able to wear the Taeguk mark.”
“It’s also a burden to wear the flag. I realized that I need to be flexible,” he said. 토토