Lee with Bolton Wanderers in 2013
|Full name||Lee Chung-Yong|
|Date of birth||2 July 1988|
|Place of birth||Seoul, South Korea|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|2001–2003||Dobong Middle School|
|2003–2005||South Korea U17||6||(6)|
|2006–2007||South Korea U20||18||(1)|
|2007–2008||South Korea U23||7||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:14, 21 January 2017 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23:30, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
|Revised Romanization||I Cheong-Yong|
He is nicknamed "Blue Dragon", which is a literal translation of his given name "Chung-Yong", derived from Hanja, 청용(靑龍). He joined in the 2004 season and ever since his early debut at the age of 18 for the South Korean side FC Seoul in the 2006 season of K League, Lee has gathered much attention from domestic football fans of South Korea in general, particularly because in South Korean football, where rookies mostly make their entrance into professional clubs through draft system, dropping out of middle school to sign a contract with a top division football club was a very rare case.
Lee Chung-Yong's football career started at the age of 11. Although considered to have started too late by some, his enormous talent was evident and his reputation grew among the Seoul youth football development community.
In 2003, FC Seoul, then known as Anyang LG Cheetahs in its modern incarnation, then manager Cho Kwang-rae began focusing on developing a youth academy within the team. Lee, who, at the time, was attending Dobong Middle School caught the eye of a scout and manager Cho decided to attend his match. After watching only the first half, he was certain Lee had a massive potential, and decided to sign him on the spot. Subsequently, Lee dropped out of the school and joined FC Seoul. Dropping out of middle school could mean a lot later in his life since Korea does not draft middle school dropouts for its military. FC Seoul at the time signed a handful of youngsters this way, with the most prominent ones being Lee Chung-yong himself, Ko Yo-han, Koh Myong-jin and Song Jin-hyung. He was a Substitute in the 2004 League Cup, In 2006, He debuted in the K League. For the next several years, Lee honed his skills in the FC Seoul reserves alongside close friend and international team-mate Ki Sung-yueng.
In 2007, Şenol Güneş, famous for coaching the third-placed Turkey national squad in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, joined FC Seoul as manager. After watching the youngsters Koh Myong-jin, Ki Sung-yueng and Lee Chung-yong carefully, he recognized the players' significant abilities and aimed to use them as important elements in the FC Seoul first team. That season, Lee Chung-yong began to break into the first team, playing in 15 league matches and scoring three goals.
The following year, in 2008, he cemented his place as a regular for FC Seoul, playing 22 league matches, scoring five goals. Both he and Ki Sung-yong won many domestic league fans for their exciting link-up play and terrific individual qualities so much so that they were both given the affectionate moniker "Ssang Yong" or "Double Dragon", a play on their given names.
In the 2009 season, Lee continued his rampant form and he completed a hat-trick of assists in the opening game of the season against Chunnam Dragons on 7 March 2009. On 4 April 2009, he scored the winning goal in a match against Seoul's fierce rival, Suwon Samsung Bluewings.
FC Seoul confirmed that Lee Chung-yong had agreed a deal to join Premier League side Bolton Wanderers. A statement from FC Seoul said: "The contract will be signed officially after a work permit is issued." On 29 July 2009, it was announced that he had been granted a work permit allowing him to complete a £2.2 million transfer from FC Seoul. He had already agreed personal terms on a three-year contract with Bolton the previous week and also underwent a successful medical. The transfer was officially confirmed on 14 August 2009, Lee was reported as stating "I am looking forward to this new chapter in my career and cannot wait to play my first game for my new club." With Gary Megson's dismissal in December 2009, he became his last full signing for the club.
He made his first Bolton appearance on 15 August 2009 when coming on as a substitute for Gavin McCann in the 1–0 defeat against Sunderland at the Reebok Stadium and scored his first goal, the winning goal of the match in a 2–1 victory against Birmingham City on 26 September. He was named Man of the Match in the match against Tottenham Hotspur, providing team-mate Ricardo Gardner with an assist. As a result of these good performances, Lee was named in the ESPN Soccernet Team of the Week twice in a row. His terrific form for his rookie season continued weeks later, after the international break, as he assisted Ivan Klasnic's first goal in the 3–3 draw against Manchester City at the Reebok Stadium. He was consequently named 'Man of the Match' by Sky Sports for his significant attacking presence and dribbling prowess: "The South Korean was a constant thorn in City's side and looks to be a real find for Gary Megson."
At the end of his first season, Lee won a triumvirate of awards including Bolton Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year, and best newcomer awards. There was interest from Liverpool after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but Lee stated that it was likely that he would remain at Bolton for the 2010–11 Premier League, and on 25 November he signed an extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until 2013.
During a pre-season friendly against Newport County on 30 July 2011, Lee suffered a broken leg after a challenge from Tom Miller. It was initially reported that the injury would rule Lee out for a minimum of nine months, but by early September, Bolton were hopeful that the player would return before the end of the season. Towards the end of April 2012, Lee started training with the Bolton first team again and was hopeful of playing a game or two before the season concluded.
On 4 May 2012, manager Owen Coyle ruled out a return for Lee that season, but just two days later Lee returned to action as a second-half substitute for Martin Petrov in Bolton's 2–2 draw with West Bromwich Albion, and received a standing ovation from the home crowd. On 29 May 2012 it was confirmed that Lee had signed an unannounced new contract the previous summer, extending his stay at the Reebok to the end of the 2014–15 season. Every game Lee had scored in for Bolton, Bolton had won. This streak was broken however on 27 October 2012 as Bolton lost 2–1 to Middlesbrough with Bolton's goal coming from Lee.
In the 2012–13 season, Lee was eased back into the first-team fold as he worked his way back to full fitness. After such a serious injury, it took Lee several months to regain the sharpness that he had displayed in his first two seasons with the club. However, during the second half of the season, Lee appeared to be getting closer to the form which marked him out as one of South Korea's top footballing talents. He finished the season with a respectable return of four goals and seven assists in the Championship.
Lee remained in the Championship with Bolton for the 2013–14 season. He scored in each of the last two games of the season as Bolton finished 14th in the table.
On 2 February 2015, transfer deadline day, Lee signed for Premier League side Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee with Barry Bannan going the other way on loan. Lee's contract runs to June 2018. He scored his first goal for the club against Shrewsbury Town in the League Cup on 25 August 2015. He scored his first league goal for Palace with a 30-yard volley at the 90th minute to defeat Stoke City 2-1 on 19 December 2015.
Lee's international career started as part of the South Korea national under-20 football team in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Despite impressing against quality opposition including the United States men's national under-20 soccer team, Brazil, and Poland, South Korea failed to make the cut for the next round. Lee's individual performances, however, were enough to impress many neutrals and rumored to have caught the eye of many European scouts.
After his U-20 tenure, Lee was part of the unsuccessful 2008 Beijing Olympics U-23 national team. When 2008 Beijing Olympics were being held, Koreans nominated Lee as the most anticipated player among Korean soccer players. His first under-23 match was against Syria in Damascus, 17 October 2007.
On 31 May 2008, Lee was given his national team debut by manager Huh Jung-Moo in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualification match against Jordan. He would score his first national team goal against the same team in the return leg at home on 5 September 2008 in Seoul World Cup Stadium. Lee Chung-yong was one of the most consistent and important players in South Korea's successful seventh consecutive qualification for the World Cup and eighth overall, an Asian record.
On 17 June 2010, Lee scored an injury time goal in the first half against Argentina in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Lee scored again in the round of 16 match against Uruguay in South Korea's 2–1 defeat. He was named in the top 10 rising stars of the 2010 FIFA World Cup by Sports Illustrated.
On 15 October 2013, Lee made his 50th appearance for the Korean national team in a friendly match against Mali. Lee provided two assists as Korea won the game 3–1. One month later, Lee captained the side in a friendly against Switzerland and scored the winning goal with an 87th-minute header. It was his first international goal in more than three years, his last coming in the 2010 World Cup.
Lee was selected for the South Korea squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He started all three games as Korea were eliminated at the group stage. In the last minutes of the game against Belgium, he made a late challenge on Anthony Vanden Borre, ruling the Belgian out for injury for the rest of the tournament as a result.
Lee was included in South Korea's squad for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. However, during the team's first match against Oman, he sustained a hairline fracture of the right tibia and was unable to participate in the remainder of the tournament.
Lee married his middle-school girlfriend at Hotel Shilla in Seoul on 12 July 2014.
Lee dislikes drinking and smoking, and even refrains from drinking coffee. He spends 2–3 hours a day studying English and also attends English classes.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
- Results list South Korea's goal tally first.
|1.||5 September 2008||Seoul||Jordan||1–0||1–0||Friendly match|
|2.||14 November 2008||Doha||Qatar||1–0||1–1||Friendly match|
|3.||16 May 2010||Seoul||Ecuador||2–0||2–0||Friendly match|
|4.||17 June 2010||Johannesburg||Argentina||1–2||1–4||2010 FIFA World Cup|
|5.||26 June 2010||Port Elizabeth||Uruguay||1–1||1–2||2010 FIFA World Cup|
|6.||15 November 2013||Seoul||Switzerland||2–1||2–1||Friendly match|
|7.||3 September 2015||Hwaseong||Laos||1–0||8–0||2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier|
|8.||1 September 2016||Seoul||China PR||2–0||3–2||2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier|
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