Koo Ja-cheol

Koo Ja-cheol (Korean구자철; Korean pronunciation: [ku.dʑa.tɕʰʌl] or [ku] [tɕa.tɕʰʌl]; born 27 February 1989) is a South Korean footballer who plays for Al-Gharafa in the Qatar Stars League as a midfielder. Koo is one of the three South Korean players who spent the most successful career in German Bundesliga with Cha Bum-kun and Son Heung-min.[2] He played for VfL Wolfsburg, FC Augsburg and Mainz 05 with 211 appearances in Bundesliga.[3] He also captained the South Korea national team in the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and won a bronze medal in the Summer Olympics.

Koo Ja-cheol
Rus-SK2017 (17) (cropped2).jpg
Koo with South Korea in 2017
Personal information
Full name Koo Ja-cheol
Date of birth (1989-02-27) 27 February 1989 (age 31)
Place of birth Nonsan, Chungnam, South Korea
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Playing position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Al-Gharafa
Number 10
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2007–2010 Jeju United 70 (7)
2011–2014 VfL Wolfsburg 32 (0)
2012–2013FC Augsburg (loan) 36 (8)
2014–2015 Mainz 05 39 (6)
2015–2019 FC Augsburg 104 (14)
2019– Al-Gharafa 13 (1)
National team
2007–2009 South Korea U20 16 (5)
2009–2012 South Korea U23 16 (5)
2008–2019 South Korea 76 (19)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 5 March 2020 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 25 January 2019
Koo Ja-cheol
Hangul
구자철
Hanja
具滋哲
Revised RomanizationGu Ja-cheol
McCune–ReischauerKu Cha-ch'ŏl
Also spelled Gu Ja-chul or Ku Ja-chul

Early lifeEdit

Koo started football at age ten when a nearby elementary school opened its football club. During his early youth career, he mostly played as a defender, often taking sweeper role. However, he wasn't particularly outstanding and the fact he suffered from anemia also hindered him from gaining attention. In 2006, as a member of Boin High School, Koo participated in the Baekrok High School Football Competition that is annually held in Jeju Island. Leading Boin High School to a runner-up place with an outstanding performance, he grabbed the attention of Jung Hae-seong, who was then the manager of Jeju United.

Club careerEdit

Jeju UnitedEdit

In 2007, Koo was selected by Jeju United in the K League draft. He failed to make an impression in his first two years at Jeju due to numerous injuries. However, he slowly broke into the first team, mostly playing as a defensive midfielder. In January 2010, he was reportedly invited by Blackburn Rovers for a trial, but the move didn't happen.[4] He spent a great season in 2010 at Jeju instead, driving his club to an unprecedented runner-up position. His contribution also enabled him to gain personal honors, as he received the FANtastic Player award and the Top Assists Award and was included in the K League Best XI.

VfL WolfsburgEdit

On 30 January 2011, Koo Ja-cheol successfully moved to VfL Wolfsburg during the winter transfer window, signing a three-and-a-half year contract for an undisclosed fee.[5] On 12 February 2011, Koo made his Wolfsburg debut against Hamburger SV, coming on as a substitute in the 64th minute in the 1–0 home defeat.[6] However, he had difficulty competing for places in the starting line-up during a year.

Loan to FC AugsburgEdit

On 31 January 2012, he moved on loan to the league rivals FC Augsburg.[7][8] On 18 February 2012, he scored the equalizer with a non-stop curve shot outside the penalty area but his team lost 4–1 against Bayer Leverkusen.[9] On 17 March 2012, he scored the equalizer with a lob outside the penalty area and contributed to a 2–1 victory against Mainz 05.[10] On 24 March 2012, he assisted the equalizer and his team drew 1–1 with Werder Bremen.[11] On 31 March 2012, he scored the opening goal with a low shot outside the penalty area and contributed to a 2–1 victory against 1. FC Köln.[12] On 7 April 2012, he scored the equalizer through Manuel Neuer's legs, but his team lost to Bayern Munich 2–1.[13] On 5 May 2012, he scored the winning goal with a header and led a 1–0 victory against Hamburger SV.[14] During the loan period, he recorded five goals and two assists in 15 appearances, and became the top scorer of his team, although only played half of the season.[15] He performed a significant part in helping Augsburg escape relegation in their maiden season in the Bundesliga.[16]

In his second season at Augsburg, Koo was plagued by injuries but still helped the club survive relegation in the limited games he played in. In December 2012 he was involved in an on the field altercation with Bayern Munich's midfielder Franck Ribéry in the 2012–13 DFB-Pokal. After a disputed free kick he confronted Ribéry and touched his face, in response Ribéry slapped Koo.[17] Referee Thorsten Kinhöfer gave Koo a yellow card and sent off Ribéry. Bayern Munich director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge demanded that the ejection be overturned, while Bayern's coach Jupp Heynckes blamed both Koo and Ribéry, stating that although Koo had provoked Ribéry the latter should learn to not react under pressure.[18]

Mainz 05Edit

In the 2013–14 season, he returned to Wolfsburg and was deployed as a central midfielder or winger, but he wanted more appearances and preferred playing as an attacking midfielder like when he played for Augsburg.[19][20] On 18 January 2014, it was announced that Koo penned a four-and-a-half year deal with Mainz 05.[21] On 1 February 2014, he scored his first goal for Mainz in a 2–0 victory over SC Freiburg.[22] In the 2014–15 season, however, he was used as a winger to substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Nicolai Müller who had left Mainz 05.[23] On 31 July 2014, he contributed to a 1–0 victory by assisting the winning goal against Asteras Tripoli in the third qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League.[24] On 7 August 2014, he scored a goal, his first in the UEFA competition, but his team lost 3–1 to Asteras Tripoli in the second leg and was eliminated from the tournament.[25] On 15 August 2014, he scored a goal, but his team didn't finish the game during 120 minutes by drawing 5–5 with a third division club Chemnitzer after extra time in the first round of the 2014–15 DFB-Pokal. In the penalty shoot-out, he scored the second goal of team, but they lost 5–4 and experienced a shock.[26] He recorded five goals and two assists with 23 appearances in the 2014–15 Bundesliga.[27]

FC AugsburgEdit

On 31 August 2015, Koo rejoined Augsburg, so Augsburg played a season with three South Korean players, including Ji Dong-won and Hong Jeong-ho.[28] On 12 September 2015, he assisted the opening goal with a backheel pass in the first half, but his team lost 2–1 to Bayern Munich by conceding two goals in the second half.[29] On 23 September 2015, he brought a penalty kick against Granit Xhaka, but they lost 4–2 to Borussia Mönchengladbach.[30] On 21 February 2016, he broke through the left of Hannover 96 alone with his dribbling and scored the winning goal.[31] On 6 March 2016, he scored the first hat-trick of Augsburg in the Bundesliga,[32] but Augsburg didn't protect their 3–0 lead and drew 3–3 with Bayer Leverkusen.[33] He recorded eight goals and four assists with 29 appearances in the 2015–16 Bundesliga.[34] He also participated in the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League, the first UEFA competition of Augsburg.[35] They recorded three wins and three losses in the group stage, and succeeded in advancing to the knockout stage,[36] but lost 1–0 on aggregate to Liverpool in the round of 32.[37] After the 2015–16 season, he was ranked fifth of attacking midfielders in the kicker Rangliste.[38]

On 3 February 2020, he achieved his 200th Bundesliga appearance against Mainz 05. He left Augsburg by turning down an extension offer from the club after the 2018–19 season.[39][40] He wanted to contract with high ranking clubs of the Bundesliga,[41] but finally joined Qatar Stars League side Al-Gharafa in August 2019.[42]

International careerEdit

Koo played a central role in helping South Korea finish third in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, with five goals and three assists over the tournament, finishing as the tournament's top scorer.[43]

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, Koo played as a central midfielder in the South Korea under-23 team. He appeared in every game in the tournament, and scored the second goal during the second half of the bronze medal match against Japan, securing a 2–0 victory for Korea. The South Korean team won the bronze medal in football for the first time in its Olympics history and in doing so, became the second Asian team in the Olympics men's football to reach the semi-finals.[44]

He was named captain of the national team ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and scored in a 4–2 defeat to Algeria in the team's second group match.[45] He was selected for the 2015 Asian Cup and played a decisive role in South Korea's opening match, a 1–0 victory over Oman, and was named man of the match.[46] In the match against Australia, Ja-cheol suffered an injury and missed the remainder of the tournament.

On 25 January 2019, Koo announced his retirement from international duty after South Korea lost in the quarter-finals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.[47]

Style of playEdit

Originally deployed as a defensive midfielder, he showed his best performance when played as an attacking midfielder, and sometimes played as a central midfielder, second striker or winger.[19][48] He was praised for his technique and vision, especially the talent which could get out of opponents' pressure keeping the ball.[49] He also had an ability to find the back of the net, often displaying a knack to charge into the opposition penalty box unsighted.[50] However, he was occasionally criticized that his individual ability slowed down the tempo of team's attacks.[49]

Personal lifeEdit

Koo likes to go shopping in his spare time in Germany.[51] He is currently the honorary ambassador for The Republic of Korea Air Force.[52] Koo is also a close friend with his teammate Ki Sung-yueng, and they like to display their friendly, humorous conversations on Twitter. Ki revealed on the Korean talk show Healing Camp, Aren't You Happy that Koo has a nickname called "Koogle Georim" (Korean: 구글거림) because of his sometimes goofy way of talking.[53] On 24 June 2013, Koo married a Jeju woman three years his senior at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel.[54][55]

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

As of match played 5 March 2020[56]
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Jeju United 2007 K League 10 1 1 0 6 0 17 1
2008 K League 9 0 0 0 5 0 14 0
2009 K League 22 1 2 1 6 1 30 3
2010 K League 29 5 4 0 1 0 34 5
Total 70 7 7 1 18 1 95 9
VfL Wolfsburg 2010–11 Bundesliga 10 0 0 0 10 0
2011–12 Bundesliga 12 0 0 0 12 0
2013–14 Bundesliga 10 0 2 0 12 0
Total 32 0 2 0 34 0
FC Augsburg (loan) 2011–12 Bundesliga 15 5 0 0 15 5
2012–13 Bundesliga 21 3 1 0 22 3
Total 36 8 1 0 37 8
Mainz 05 2013–14 Bundesliga 14 1 0 0 14 1
2014–15 Bundesliga 23 5 1 1 2[a] 1 26 7
2015–16 Bundesliga 2 0 0 0 2 0
Total 39 6 1 1 2 1 42 8
FC Augsburg 2015–16 Bundesliga 27 8 1 0 8[a] 0 36 8
2016–17 Bundesliga 23 2 2 1 25 3
2017–18 Bundesliga 28 2 1 0 29 2
2018–19 Bundesliga 26 2 2 0 28 2
Total 104 14 6 1 8 0 118 15
Al-Gharafa 2019–20 Qatar Stars League 13 1 1 0 14 1
Career total 294 36 18 3 18 1 10 1 340 41
  1. ^ a b Appearances in the UEFA Europa League.

InternationalEdit

As of 25 January 2019[57]
National team Year Apps Goals
South Korea U20 2007 4 3
2008 5 0
2009 7 2
Total 16 5
South Korea U23 2008 1 0
2009 1 0
2010 6 3
2012 8 2
Total 16 5
South Korea 2008 2 0
2009 0 0
2010 8 2
2011 15 7
2012 3 1
2013 6 2
2014 8 1
2015 8 3
2016 7 2
2017 8 1
2018 7 0
2019 4 0
Total 76 19
Career total 108 29

International goalsEdit

Scores and results list South Korea's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 9 January 2010 Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa   Zambia 2–4 2–4 Friendly
2 7 February 2010 National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan   Hong Kong 2–0 5–0 2010 EAFF Championship
3 10 January 2011 Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha, Qatar   Bahrain 1–0 2–1 2011 AFC Asian Cup
4 2–0
5 14 January 2011 Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha, Qatar   Australia 1–0 1–1
6 18 January 2011 Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha, Qatar   India 2–0 4–1
7 28 January 2011 Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha, Qatar   Uzbekistan 1–0 3–2
8 7 June 2011 Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju, South Korea   Ghana 2–1 2–1 Friendly
9 15 November 2011 Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium, Beirut, Lebanon   Lebanon 1–1 1–2 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
10 12 June 2012 Goyang Sports Complex, Goyang, South Korea   Lebanon 3–0 3–0
11 6 September 2013 Sungeui Arena Park, Incheon, South Korea   Haiti 2–1 4–1 Friendly
12 15 October 2013 Cheonan Baekseok Stadium, Cheonan, South Korea   Mali 1–1 3–1
13 22 June 2014 Estádio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil   Algeria 2–4 2–4 2014 FIFA World Cup
14 27 March 2015 Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, South Korea   Uzbekistan 1–0 1–1 Friendly
15 8 October 2015 Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait   Kuwait 1–0 1–0 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
16 12 November 2015 Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, South Korea   Myanmar 2–0 4–0
17 1 September 2016 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea   China PR 3–0 3–2
18 15 November 2016 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea   Uzbekistan 2–1 2–1
19 14 November 2017 Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan, South Korea   Serbia 1–1 1–1 Friendly

HonoursEdit

South Korea U23

South Korea

Individual

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "2018 FIFA World Cup: List of players" (PDF). FIFA. 8 July 2018. p. 16.
  2. ^ "Ja-Cheol Koo, Heung-Min Son and Bum-Kun Cha: The top 3 South Koreans in Bundesliga history". Bundesliga. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
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  4. ^ "Koo Ja-cheol to Have Blackburn Trial". The Korea Times. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  5. ^ 구자철, VfL 볼프스부르크 이적 (in Korean). Jeju United. 31 January 2011. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Neustart missglückt: 0:1-Heimniederlage gegen den HSV" (in German). VfL Wolfsburg. 12 February 2011. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011.
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  41. ^ [KOO 오피셜]독일을 떠나면서 꼭 하고 싶었던 말들. YouTube.com (in Korean). ShootingStar. 6 August 2019.
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External linksEdit