‘Monster’ Kim Min-jae on what he learned from China to Europe: “China – 1v1 defense, Turkey – defensive timing, Napoli – joining the attack”

August 31, 2023 | by

Kim Min-jae, 26, spoke to Bayern Munich about his childhood, role models, season goals, and more in an interview with the club.

The club released the interview with the magazine ’51’ on its official website on Jan. 31 (KST).

Kim officially joined the German giants on March 19 after leading Napoli to the Serie A title last season. He signed a five-year contract until 2028 and was given the number 3 shirt from his time at Napoli. The buyout (minimum transfer fee) was 50 million euros ($71.3 billion) and the annual salary was 12 million euros ($17.1 billion), the highest ever for an Asian player.

He was trusted by head coach Thomas Tuchel to play in both the Super Cup and the opening and second rounds of the Bundesliga in the 2022-2023 season. In addition to Kim, Munich now has three central defenders in Dayot Upamecano, Matthijs de Ligt, and Fabrice Boateng. Of the three, Kim has established himself as a mainstay, starting two games in a row since the opening day alongside Upamecano.

“I grew up in a port city called Tongyeong, South Korea. The sea is important in my family’s life. The sea is an important part of my life and my family’s life.” “There is a German village in Namhae-gun, which is near Tongyeong, but I haven’t been there yet. There’s a beer festival, Oktoberfest, there. I really want to go there.”

He also explained how he started playing soccer. “I’ve been into soccer since I was a kid,” he said. I always liked to be in motion, so it was hard for me to stay at home. The intense running in soccer suited me well,” he said. “At first, I was a striker, but when I was 12 or 13, I started to enjoy tackling and defending,” he explains.

“My parents, who were athletes, allowed me to play soccer formally. “I wasn’t a very talented kid, but I wanted to work hard and fulfill my dreams,” he said. “I’m happy with the journey that took me from Korea, China, Turkey, Naples, and now Munich.

Minjae said living in Munich now is like a dream. “Since I was a kid, I watched soccer games around the world, and Munich was one of them,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. They are also very popular in Korea.”

“If someone had said to me before, ‘You’re going to play for Munich,’ I wouldn’t have believed it. It’s a huge honor to play in Munich. I still feel like I’m in a dream. I know I have to do my best every day to keep this dream alive,” he said.

Kim has previously cited legendary Munich defenders such as Franz Beckenbauer and Lucio as role models. When asked what impressed him about them, he said, “They are both excellent defenders. “They’re both great defenders, especially in the buildup,” he says, “and I try to show those qualities in my game. “Beckenbauer and Lucio have been Munich’s main defenders for a long time, maintaining a high level of performance. I would be happy if I could be like them.”

When asked if it’s true that he trained to climb mountains with a tire strapped to his back like the protagonist in the movie Rocky Balboa, Kim laughs. “At the time, I wanted to get faster, so I strapped a tire to my back and climbed a mountain. It was too much training. I’m not sure if it helped, but I guess it wasn’t bad. Even now, I always make it a point to try new things and test myself in my own way.”

On the value of always learning: “My parents taught me that you have to keep learning. No matter how old you get. Otherwise, you can’t improve,” he said, adding, “It’s a trait of mine to always observe my fellow players and people around me.”

Kim moved from Jeonbuk Hyundai to Beijing Guoan in China in 2019. He then switched to Turkish side Fenerbahçe in August 2021, making his first appearance in Europe. He then moved to Napoli in July last year, joining the top five European leagues. Kim emphasized that he learned something from each league. “In China, I was able to improve my one-on-one defense against strong attackers,” he says, “and in Turkey, I learned when to drop back and when to move forward in defense.”

“At Napoli, I had to be able to do both,” says Kim. “At Napoli, I had to be able to do both, because Serie A is a very tactically flexible league,” says Kim. “At the time, coach Luciano Spalletti asked me to be involved in the attack, and I was able to play my game. “At the time, coach Luciano Spalletti asked me to be involved in the offense and I was able to play my game, but it was the most physically demanding part of my career. “The level of the league was also high. We had to stay focused every week, including the World Cup in December and the midweek games in the league. I am very proud that Napoli became champions.” 안전놀이터

He also revealed that he didn’t feel homesick in Turkey, his first European experience. “Homesickness was never a problem for me. I still like to focus on myself. It also helped that I went with my wife and child. The presence of my family gives me a sense of security and gives me strength. They always support me and are still with me in Munich.”

Kim’s current goal is to play every game. “I’m focusing on one goal. “If you ask me about my goals again next January, I’ll be able to tell you a new one,” he said.


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