Korea has a deep connection. Numerous national team players went through the Saudi Arabia Professional League (SPL).
From Seol Ki-hyeon (Gyeongnam FC coach) to Kim Seung-gyu (Al-Shabab) and Jung Woo-young (Khaliz FC). The SPL is a league that represents Korea. In 2009, Seol Ki-hyun left England’s Fulham and moved to 안전놀이터 Al-Hilal on a short-term loan. Even in a short period of six months, he played 20 matches and played an active role as Al-Hilal’s main striker.
SPL teams who saw the talent directly began to show interest in the Korean player. Lee Chun-su and Lee Young-pyo, who were the main players of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, went to Al Hilal and Al Nasr in 2009, respectively. Lee Young-pyo played an active part as Al-Hilal’s main side defender, so he was transferred to Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. Song Jong-guk played for Al Shabaab for a year in 2010 and played until the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL).
In particular, Al-Hilal benefited from using Korean players as key players. From 2014 to 2016, Kwak Tae-hwi, who played an active role as a key center back, took the team to the 2014 ACL final and enjoyed the honor of reaching the best 11 of the competition. Jang Hyun-soo, who was recruited in 2019, played an active role until 2023 and was with the team’s history. In the 2019-20 season, he achieved a treble and tasted two consecutive ACL championships in the 2020-21 season.
It is still a league where the main players of the Korean national team are active. Kim Seung-gyu has been active as the main goalkeeper for Al Shabab since 2022. It is a strong Saudi Arabian team that finished 4th in the 2022-23 season. In July, he also faced Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nasr).
Jung Woo-young (33), who played the main defensive midfielder under Paulo Bento’s coaching system, will leave Qatar’s Al Sadd and play for Khalij in Saudi Arabia from the 2023-24 season.
The opening of the SPL is just around the corner. SPL teams with enormous financial power have completed preparations for the 2023-24 season by recruiting a large number of European superstars. On the 12th at 3pm (Korean time), Al Ahli and Al Hazm will face each other in the first round.
Al-Ahli drew attention from the world football world this summer by signing Edouard Mendy (ex-Chelsea), Roberto Firmino (ex-Liverpool), Riyad Mahrez (ex-Manchester City) and Alain Saint-Maximin (ex-Newcastle United). All Barrow, who played a big role in Jeonbuk Hyundai, also headed to Al-Ahli and got to breathe with top players in the European soccer world.