Lee Dong-gook

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Pohang, South Korea
Birth Sign
Pohang, South Korea

Lee Dong-gook is a South Korean footballer who is currently a record-breaking striker in the K-League. He began his football career with a local club and quickly ascended the ranks to play for the national team. As his popularity grew, he moved to Germany’s Bundesliga to play for Werder Bremen. Lee then joined the English Premier League, the world’s most popular football league, in 2007 and played for Middlesbrough. Unfortunately, his performances in international tournaments never reached the heights they did in South Korea. Since joining the South Korean national team, he has scored 33 international goals and earned 105 international caps for his country. He has competed for his country at the FIFA World Cup, the Asia Cup, the Gold Cup, and the Olympics. He gained additional attention after marrying Miss Korea runner-up Lee Soon-jin, and he has since appeared on television with all five of his children and wife on the reality television show ‘The Return of Superman.’ He was called up to the national team in mid-2017 for the 2018 World Cup Qualifier game.

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Childhood & Adolescence

Lee Dong-gook was born in Gyeongbuk, South Korea on 29th April 1979. As an athletic child, he spent hours honing his soccer skills and, with the encouragement of his parents, he continued to improve. By the time he reached high school, he had developed into a competitive striker, and at the age of 15, he was offered a chance to join South Korean club Pohang Steelers. His game continued to improve following his arrival at the club, and at the age of 19, he made his national team debut as a striker.

Career of Lee

While competing in domestic tournaments for his team Pohang Steelers, Lee displayed some impressive striking abilities, earning him the attention of national team selectors. This provided Lee with the opportunity to join the South Korean U-19 team in 1998 and then the national team the following year.

He led his national U-19 team to victory in a major tournament such as the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup in 1998. He has been a key striker from the start, and at the tender age of 19, he established himself as a player with high potential to become an international star.

He also earned a spot in the South Korean team for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 AFC Asian Cup, where he finished as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals.

Lee was then loaned to the local German league, where he played for Werder Bremen, one of the Bundesliga’s strongest teams. Unfortunately, his time in Germany was plagued by injuries, and he did not get much opportunity to play, and after six months in Germany, he continued his career with the Pohang Steelers in Korea.

In a shocking turn of events in 2002, he was left out of the final FIFA World Cup squad. The coach, Guus Hiddink, stated that Lee was a slothful individual who was uninterested in the game and also stated that he made no preparations for the world’s largest football tournament. This, in addition to his clumsy lifestyle, which included alcohol, was cited as a reason for his dismissal from the national team.

In 2002, he enlisted in the military to fulfill his mandatory service and was assigned to the team Gwangju Sangmu Bulsajo. He stayed with the team and played two seasons in the K-League Classic for them, and upon his return from military service in 2004, his game had improved even more as he rejoined the Steelers.

Although he was mostly recovered from the injuries he sustained during his time in the Bundesliga, he was not fully fit, and during an April 2006 match, he suffered a serious knee injury that sidelined him for six months.

He also missed the opportunity to represent his country at the World Cup due to the injury. He was devastated, as he was one of his coach’s first choices for the national team.

As he recovered by the start of 2007, English Premier League club Middlesbrough sought South Korean talent for their line-up and found Lee to be the ideal candidate. Lee was then signed to an 18-month contract and made his debut in February 2007 against Reading.

His performance was below par, and he scored his first tournament goal against Northampton Town in August 2007. Lee’s haul was not impressive, and when his contract expired after one and a half years, the club decided not to extend it further.

What added to his troubles in 2007 was a year-long suspension he received after being accused of indulging in a late-night drinking spree during the Asian Cup in November 2007. It was cited as one of the primary reasons for the Korean team finishing third in the cup’s final standings. Lee, however, continued to play for his English Premier League team during this time.

He was unexpectedly transferred to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in 2009, and as if that was exactly what he needed, he played magnificently, leading his team to a tournament victory in the 2009 K-League. He scored a total of 20 goals in the 27 league matches he played, and by the time he began the 2012 season, he had already established himself as the K-all-time League’s leading goal scorer with 117 goals.

He then performed mediocrely at the subsequent FIFA World Cups, and the South Korean national football team had devolved from one of the best Asian teams to a mediocre one by that point. Lee was not selected for the final line-up for the 2014 team, but because the team continued to perform poorly, he was invited to play in the 2018 World Cup qualifier due to his experience.

Lee made an unexpected career pivot in 2015, when he appeared alongside his family on the immensely popular South Korean variety show ‘The Return of Superman’. The show’s format enables fathers to care for their children in the absence of their wives, and with five children to look after, Lee was the show’s busiest dad.

Private Life of Lee

As a footballer, Lee Dong-gook led a flamboyant lifestyle that included dating celebrities. Lee married Lee Soo-jin, an ex-Miss Korea, in 2005 after dating her for several years. The couple had a total of five children, two sets of identical twin daughters and a son.

Lee has a reputation for being quite controversial in public, and he has admitted to suffering from alcoholism and ‘too much ego’ in his personal life.

Estimated Net Worth

Lee Dong-current gook’s net worth is estimated to be $1,188,000, largely based on the estimated net worth of $375,100 earned as a Soccer Player.