A Name to Remember: Lee Keun-HoBy: Daryl | May 12th, 2009
Take a look at this J-League goal from Jubilo Iwata’s South Korean attacker Lee Keun-Ho. Dribbling along the touchline Lee goes around the keeper and then back inside before slotting it home to make it six goals in six games for the 24 year old since he traded K-League for J-League.
Lee is part of an influx of South Korean talent to the J-League, made possible by a recent rule change. The had been a limit of three foreign (meaning: non-Japanese) players on each team, but for the 2009 season that’s been changed to three foreigners plus one “Asian foreigner” (meaning a fourth non-Japanese player, provided they are from an Asian country.)
A smart marketing move, as it gives the J-League the potential to attract star players from other Asian nations and then later negotiate improved TV deals for those markets. (Things like this are probably the reason Japan has the world’s third largest economy.) And according to this Andrew McKirdy article in the JapanTimes, the majority of these “Asian foreigner” imports have been Korean.
But back to Lee Keun-Ho. His success so far in Japan shouldn’t be a huge surprise, as it seems to be part of a bigger, more ambitious plan. After becoming a free agent in late 2008, he turned down a possible move to Blackburn Rovers apparently because he didn’t want to move to Europe until he could do so as a first team regular.
Lee’s contract with Jubilo Iwata only goes until the end of this season, so we can expect the possibility of a move to Europe to resurface in the next winter transfer window. And if he keeps scoring a goal a game then that offer of first team football could definitely happen. That makes Lee a name to remember.
Here are a few highlights of Lee in action, mostly for his former K-League club Daegu FC (in blue) and the South Korean national team (in red).