Four years ago, Joo Min-gyu (33, Ulsan Hyundai) felt the limits of being a second division leaguer. The trip with Ulsan Hyundai ended in one season. Afterwards, he spent three seasons at Jeju United, and started his second journey with Ulsan this season after coach Hong Myung-bo’s love call. A single game was enough to prove the changed presence.
Ulsan is delighted with the ‘butterfly effect’ driven by Joo Min-gyu. He unexpectedly started and played 88 minutes in the opening game against Jeonbuk Hyundai. In fact, Martin Adam’s sortie was strong. Coach Hong said, “There is no big difference in strength between Joo Min-gyu and Martin Adam. It was decided whether to go first or in the second half depending on the opponent. It was early in the league, so I needed smooth communication and experience with the players.”
Jumin-gyu in 2023, ‘from the top scorer’, was not the Jumin-gyu in 2019. Power was great. He was not pushed back in the battle for position with Jeonbuk center backs, including Hong Jeong-ho and Park Jin-seop. He created space by driving 2-3 opponents around. I felt the power of Ulsan’s front line, which was different from last season.
The flow has also been returned. It was blocked by the opponent’s goalkeeper, but Jo Min-kyu’s right-footed volley in the 42nd minute of the first half was the trigger, and a minute later Um Won-sang equalized from a corner kick set-piece. In the 19th minute of the second half, Hong Jeong-ho and goalkeeper Kim Jeong-hoon made a different beat, leading to Rubikson’s winning goal, leading to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory.
Eom Won-sang, who fired Ulsan’s first salute this season, acknowledged its strength. He said, “I felt that the opposing players were very conscious of Min-gyu, so there were two or three people sticking together. I will help,” he said.
Joo Min-gyu scored 22 goals in 2021 and became the K-League 1 top scorer for the first time in 5 years since Jeong Jo-guk as a’native striker’. Last year, he also scored 17 goals with Cho Kyu-seong (Jeonbuk), but had to be satisfied with second place in the scoring category after falling behind in points per game. However, he also recorded 7 assists and was re-evaluated as an all-weather striker. 안전놀이터
Director Hong also praised it. He said, “There were 1 or 2 chances, but it was good for the first game. Winning the first game wearing our uniform seems to have given me an opportunity to lighten my shoulders in another sense.”
Jumin-gyu also relieved the burden. On the 27th, he said, “The members of the team, the number of spectators, and the atmosphere of the stadium were all different from four years ago, but the fact that there are fans who chant my name and coaches and players who believe in me has not changed.” It made me feel welcome and a sense of accomplishment, not rejection.” Joo Min-kyu also emphasized, “I think these feelings helped me to enjoy the game without much pressure in the opening game. I want to show a good image in the future so that I can repay your trust and support.” ‘Veteran’ Joo Min-gyu’s season is just beginning.