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  • Y-P Lee: The Whitecaps' leading man


    ccs-123494-140264017804_thumb.jpg<center><i>"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself"</i></center>

    In 2012, 35-year old left back Lee Young-Pyo was the Whitecaps' Player of the Year. He did this while playing in 33 of their 34 league matches, and while playing the entire season out of position. He would have played the entire year, if not for the forced vacation that came as the result of a training ground bust up. Even at 35, the passion still burns brightly for the mild mannered Korean.

    Ever the teacher, he can be seen speaking with teammates at training, assuming the role of player-coach without the title, or the compensation. Eric Hassli, Sebastien Le Toux, Davide Chiumiento, Darren Mattocks, Greg Klazura, and Jun Marques Davidson are just some of the players he’s had one-to-ones with. They weren’t the first, and they certainly won’t be the last.


    <i>"Sometimes I want to share my experience, in how to do on the pitch and off the pitch. But everyone is different, on the pitch especially. I like to play simple. Simple is the best all the time. But young players want to show some specialty to others, and then sometimes make mistakes deciding when to dribble or to pass. I’m talking about it all the time to my teammates."</i>

    At training, he often holds back. But unlike others in his profession, it does not stem from laziness, a lack of drive, or even age. He does what is required, and no more. It is only on rare occasions, when his teammates might learn from it, or in a bit of fun, that he goes all out, as he did recently against Andy O’Brien.

    Now, Andy O’Brien is an international with almost three hundred Premier League games to his credit. It is no easy feat to make him look disorganised. But in a recent one-on-one at the end of practice, Lee and O’Brien were paired together.

    Andy O’Brien, Jackson Farmer, Gerard Pique, it would have made no difference. Lee might as well have had the ball tethered to his boots. No matter what O’Brien did, Lee kept the ball, going left, right, or even through the Englishman. In the end, O’Brien won the ball, but even he must be wondering did he win it, or did Lee let him have it?

    <i>"The skills I achieved when I was young, I still practice all of the time. I attribute it to this. These skills as you know, I’ve never lost them, because I want the skills I learned when I was young, to still keep them."</i>

    As he enters the twilight of his career, the transition to a staffing role has already begun. He already acts as a coach on the field, but if not that, a scout is certainly a possibility.

    <i>"The club has inquired to me about several players. I’m still looking to the young players of Korea, and if I find good players, I introduce them to the club."</i>

    Although it hasn’t born fruit quite yet, Korea is the 34th ranked association according to FIFA, and have qualified for the last seven world cups. There is talent to be sure. But it must be difficult scouting it from the pitch at BC Place.

    Regarding his time in Vancouver, he had this to offer:

    <i>"Last year, I was really satisfied to play with the Whitecaps, with the fans, teammates, city, everyone. Personally, it was difficult to decide whether to play one year more because the Whitecaps are a very good team for me. But I’ve already informed many people that this is my last season."</i>

    When asked what it would take to stay on for 2014, he hesitated, but he didn’t close the door entirely, <i>"I’m just entering that decision now."</i>

    So whether it’s for 2013 or beyond, savour every moment, record every dribble, immortalise every step over, and most of all, enjoy him while he lasts.


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