Kim Young-gyu came to Spain at the tender age of 15 and invested into attending a youth academy which paid off when he got spotted by UD Almeria where he later signed a professional contract.
Kim Young-gyu is a 21 year old South Korean footballer who plays for UD Almería B and is a member of South Korean U-20 national team. But he began his career far from the spotlights of Spanish football. He was born in Yeongju and started his footballing career at local club Young In FBC. He went to Spain at the age of 15 and after not getting a chance to play in Real Madrid youth system his father invested into PC Palencia football academy programme.
This has soon paid off. Kiu made a couple of impressing performances as a member of a regional team of Castilla Leon which lead him to sign a professional contract with UD Almeria B and has since made his debut in the first team as well. He is also a member of the South Korean Olympic team, that is trying to qualify for the games in Rio.
How were you scouted in Almeria?
Kiu: At first I came to Palencia where I joined the club’s junior team. My father paid for me to attend the Palencia academy programme. We played various freindly matches with the team and I played very well. I was selected to represent regional team of Castilla Leon and we played against other teams representing Spanish regions, like Murcia and Islas Canarias. Because of my good performances I was spotted by an Almeria scout. I signed a contract with Almeria Filial or the B team and I am now playing my 5th season for Almeria.
What is the biggest difference between football style of Asia and Europe or better said between football played in South Korea and Europe?;
Kiu:In Europe the players are stronger and the game itself is more physical. In South Korea, we are more technical. We need to work much harder on the physical aspect of the game and strength. We do a lot of exercise with the ball, something we did not do in the past.
What is the difference in trainings when you play for your national team or when you train with Almeria?
Kiu: Nowdays there is virtually no difference. In the past the difference was physical exercise, as we had to do it much more in South Korea, because of our physical appearance. We are smaller so we had to train more. We trained all days and in many occasion we had double-sessions of training per day and gym afterwards.
The difference is also that in South Korea all the players live in the same residency. We live like a big family, which is not the case in Europe or Almeria.
What is your advice for young players from Asia trying to make it in Europe?
Kiu: You have to work a lot. First of all you need to learn the language and then you just need to train. It is all about work, work and work.
As you already mentioned, you came to Europe and Almeria through academy programme that your father paid for. Would you recommend such way to become professional to other players?
Kiu: Yes, definitely.
Are there many South Koreans in Palencia or Almeria?
Kiu: Right now not, as FIFA changed the rules. You can not play offical games until you are 18, so there is no point in paying just for trainings.
Where do you see yourself as a footballer in 5 years?
Kiu: I want to play in La Liga. First choice is Almeria, if not, then any other team in La Liga. Of course I also want to play for our national team.
What exercise do you do to stay in shape during the off season?
Kiu: The first thing I do when I am in South Korea is to rest completely. This is very important. Then I tend to run and train to stay in shape. And I try not to eat so much, so that I don’t gain a lot of weight.
Who is your favourite player?
Kiu: My favourite international player is Ronaldinho, especially when he played in Barcelona and from South Korea it is Park, who played for Manchester United.