Thursday, April 28, 2011
Edu Shows There's Life After K-League
Players come and go in the K-League, especially those from overseas. There is an incredibly high turnover of playing staff in South Korea, teams can virtually change their entire starting elevens from season to season.
Hiring players is not, of course, an exact science. Some succeed and some don’t for a variety of reasons. Some can end up spending years at one of the league’s 16 clubs. The likes of Adilson and Dejan Damjanovic at FC Seoul, Eninho at Jeonbuk Motors and Dzenan Radoncic at Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma have played more games here than the average Korean.
Others barely find time to sample their first kimchi before leaving the Land of the Morning Calm. Suwon’s Brazilian striker Wando never appeared before being chalked off and Bas van der Brink played just three times for Busan before leaving the club by mutual consent. Both parties said they were ‘disappointed’ in the other.
It is just another example of a transfer that doesn’t work out. There are countless others, in Korea and in every major league.
After they are gone, not much news about the former imports filters back east. That is not true however of a certain Brazilian striker who used to play for Suwon Bluewings. The beard and the hair may have gone but the smile is unmistakable.
Edu spent three seasons at the Big Bird Stadium. He arrived in 2007 and left at the end of 2009. In the meantime he had two unremarkable years and one very good one. In 2008, his 13 goals helped the Gyeonggi Province giants lift a fourth K-League title after a play-off final victory over rivals FC Seoul.
On that snowy day, he scored a vital goal against the capital club that will always be remembered by those of a blue persuasion.
The South American was a popular figure in Suwon. His final season saw just six goals scored in the blue shirt but previous exploits endeared him to the club’s loyal fans.
He left on good terms but there were a few eyebrows when he ended up soon after at Schalke 04 in January 2010. The team went on to finish second in the German top division. That earned the Gelsenkirchen giants a place in the champions league.
Schalke reached the quarterfinal of the world’s biggest club competition but was expected to lose to defending champion Inter Milan. That didn’t happen. Edu scored twice in the first leg in Italy as the Germans won 5-2.The second leg in Germany ended 2-1 giving Schalke an impressive 7-3 win over the Italian giant.
To see Edu starring against some of the biggest names in world football has gone down well both in Korea and with the player himself.
"It is a lot of fun to play alongside such a great player like Raul. Although he has already achieved everything in his career, he has remained humble," Edu said. The striker is enjoying the arrival of new coach Ralf Rangnick as former coach Felix Magath was playing him out of position.
"At the moment it is going well. I feel much more comfortable playing as a central striker, a role, which plays to my strengths. The coach alone decides who plays in the starting eleven but it is clear that I am very eager to play. We can still make a great deal of progress. Nowadays, everything is possible in football."
The reward for defeating Inter was a semifinal against Manchester United. The first leg finished on Wednesday morning Korean time and ended in a 2-0 win for the English team. Park Ji-sung played his part but Edu, like his team-mates, struggled to match the English Premier League powerhouse.
There are 90 minutes remaining but it is unlikely that Schalke will be able to get the necessary result next week in Manchester.
Whatever happens, Edu has demonstrated that there is life after the K-League and sometimes that life is at the very top of the football tree.