I usually listen while taking a shower and almost missed this when nearing the end to the Guardian’s podcast Football Weekly. I nearly slipped when I heard it and had to rewind: according to Sid Lowe (twitter @sidlowe), there is an implicit relationship established between Real Madrid and Tottenham, evidenced by last week’s Luka Modric deal. What Sid said afterwards piqued my curiosity:
“…I have spoken to someone about this; while I haven’t seen the documents, the Spurs have a series of these kinds of relationships. They’ve got a relationship with a team in the [United] States. I think I’m right in saying the South Korean team, but that may be incorrect. It involves things like access to training, to watch each other, passing information…setting up preseason tours and friendlies. It’s been described by the Spurs as a commercial type (of relationship) but there’s a football angle to it.”
How’s that for certainty! So according to him, a informal relationship exists between Tottenham and the South Korean team (maybe). Could he have been referring to a specific club instead of the entire national team? I asked Sid via Twitter about this.
@taeguk_warrior A [K-League] club, but I can’t remember which
I’ll see what I can dig up in the next couple of days. What can be made of this, potentially more Koreans scouted and recruited to ply their trade in the Premier League, thanks to Tottenham? Or could we see Koreans playing for Mourinho’s side via the Tottenham-Real Madrid connection? Ah, it’s a dangerous thing to speculate too much so we’ll just end the matter here for the time being.
If yr interested, here’s a link to the podcast from August 30th. They start talking about all this at 42 minutes in.
Lastly, there is precedent for a South Korea-Tottenham link. Lee Young-Pyo played for the Spurs from 2005-2008. The highly regarded left back was sought after by then Spurs manager Martin Jol. Lee transferred to the Spurs from PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and was perceived to have had a mixed performance for the London side. If Tottenham does have a relationship with a particular South Korean K League club, it might be with FC Seoul. Before playing in Europe, Lee played for Anyang LG Cheetahs, who would eventually move to Seoul and morph into FC Seoul. Not that Tottenham links were particularly strong with the K League side -they didn’t directly deal with Anyang for Lee. However it is possible they were scouting for some time in Korea and LYP was in their radar, especially after Korea’s strong 2002 World Cup performance. Additionally, Tottenham was linked for a time in the summer of 2011 with a certain Park Chu-Young, another alum of FC Seoul.
Time to go. I’m hungry and it’s chun-yauk time at the Tavern.
[Update Sept 8]: There is indeed precedent for informal links between K League and clubs in europe. Chelsea already established one with Suwon Samsung Bluewings.
This video shows Chelsea player expressing support for Suwon. It was released to the public by the South Korean side right before they played Gyeongnam FC in the Korean FA Cup quarterfinals last month. The Chelsea ‘magic’ from their European Cup win in May didn’t rub off on Suwon; they lost on penalties to Gyeongnam. Interestingly, it featured Didier Drogba -sometime in the spring before he flew to China to join Shanhai Shenhua for the conclusion of his storied career. [Thanks to Coreanboy671 on the BigSoccer Koreans Abroad forum].