World Cup star Lee Kang-in returns to Spain

December 12, 2022

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) — South Korean international Lee Kang-in traveled back to Spain on Tuesday to rejoin his La Liga club RCD Mallorca after helping his country to the knockout stage at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar as a super sub.

Lee, one of South Korea’s most beloved football players, made his World Cup debut in Qatar for South Korea as they progressed to the round of 16. The 21-year-old was the offensive sparkplug off the bench for the Taegeuk Warriors, wreaking havoc on opponents with his speed, energy and sharp passes.

Lee assisted on the first of two header goals by Cho Gue-sung in a 3-2 loss to Ghana in South Korea’s second Group H match. Then in the must-win final group match against Portugal, Lee’s corner went off the back of Cristiano Ronaldo and bounced toward Kim Young-gwon, who slotted it home to make tie the score at 1-1. South Korea went on to win the match 2-1 to reach the round of 16 — just the third knockout appearance for South Korea and first since 2010.

Lee and the rest of his national team arrived back home last Wednesday following a 4-1 loss to top-ranked Brazil in the round of 16. Lee told reporters at Incheon International Airport that he had enjoyed spending time with his family at home and was now ready for the restart of the Spanish season.

“Playing in the World Cup was a tremendous experience,” Lee said. “I think it will help me for the rest of my career.”

La Liga, as with other European competitions, has been on hold during the World Cup. RCD Mallorca will return to action in Copa del Rey next Tuesday against Real Union, and their first La Liga match following the World Cup will be Dec. 30 against Getafe CF.

Lee leads his team with three assists in 14 matches and he has also scored twice. Mallorca are 11th among 20 clubs with 19 points from five wins, four draws and five losses.