Lee Kang-in with Valencia in 2019
|Full name||Lee Kang-in|
|Date of birth||19 February 2001|
|Place of birth||Incheon, South Korea|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|2017–||South Korea U20||16||(7)|
|2021–||South Korea U23||7||(3)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22 September 2021|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 31 July 2021
Lee Kang-in (Korean: 이강인; Hanja: 李康仁; also romanized as Kangin Lee; Korean pronunciation: [i.ɡaŋ.in] or [i] [kaŋ.in]; born 19 February 2001) is a South Korean professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for La Liga club Mallorca and the South Korea national team.
Lee was the Asian Football Confederation's Asian Young Footballer of the Year in 2019, the same year that he won the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup's Golden Ball award. Lee's team finished runner-up during the event. He also won the Copa del Rey with Valencia during that season.
Lee joined Valencia's academy in July 2011. On 15 December 2017, he was called up to Valencia B (Mestalla). He had his debut on 21 December 2017, in a match with Deportivo Aragón, being substituted in the 82nd minute.
He made his first team debut on 30 October 2018, starting and playing 83 minutes in a 2–1 win over Ebro in the Copa del Rey, becoming the youngest Korean footballer to debut professionally in Europe.
Lee made his La Liga debut on 12 January 2019, substituting in for Denis Cheryshev in the 86th minute in a 1–1 draw with Real Valladolid during 2018–19 season. At 17 years, 10 months, and 24 days, Lee became the second youngest player in the 18–19 La Liga after Ander Barrenetxea from Real Sociedad who debuted at the age of 16 years, 11 months, and 24 days. He also became the youngest ever non-Spanish and the first Asian league debutant for Valencia, as well as the fifth Korean to play in La Liga.[note 1]
On 30 January 2019, Lee officially joined the Valencia first-team, receiving jersey number 16.
On 17 September 2019, Lee made his UEFA Champions League debut as a late substitute for Rodrigo in a 1–0 win against Chelsea, becoming the youngest ever Korean to debut in the competition at the age of 18 years and 6 months, a record previously held by Jeong Woo-yeong. He also became the 5th youngest ever to debut for Los Ches in the same competition. On 25 September 2019, he scored his first La Liga goal in a 3–3 draw against Getafe, to become the youngest non-Spanish to score for Valencia, aged 18 years and 219 days old, breaking the previous record of Mohamed Sissoko who scored in the 2003–04 UEFA Cup; and the third youngest ever, only behind Juan Mena and Fernando Gómez.[note 2] His record as the youngest non-Spanish goalscorer for Valencia was broken the following season by American teammate Yunus Musah.
On 13 September 2020, Lee became the youngest player, aged 19 years and 207 days, to assist two goals in a La Liga match in the 21st century, in a 4–2 win over Levante, breaking the previous record of Juan Mata in 2008, aged 20 years and 150 days. Despite rejecting several renewal offers from the club throughout the year, he featured regularly under Javi Gracia as the Che ended the campaign on a mid-table position.
After being on the transfer list during the entire pre-season, Lee terminated his contract with Valencia on 29 August 2021.
2019 U-20 World Cup
Lee was selected to play for the South Korea U-20 football team in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and played in every group and knockout match, leading his team to a historic runner-up finish in the tournament and scoring two goals and four assists in seven games. As a result, he received the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player.
Lee received his first call up to the senior South Korea national football team in March 2019 for friendlies against Bolivia and Colombia, and became the 7th youngest to be in the South Korea national football team. On 5 September 2019, Lee made his international debut in a 2–2 draw friendly match against Georgia as a starter.
In 2007, the six-year-old Lee was featured in the third season of the KBS N Sports reality football show Fly Shoot Dori (Korean: 날아라 슛돌이; meaning: Fly Shooting Kid). After his exceptional performance, he passed through Yoo Sang-chul's youth academy and in 2009 joined the Incheon United FC U-12 youth team. Lee later attended Seokjeong Elementary School in Incheon and played for Flyings FC. In January 2011, he went to Spain under the recommendation of his youth team coach and took part in trials for the Villarreal CF and Valencia CF youth teams.
He was born on 19 February 2001 in Incheon, the youngest of three children. His father Lee Woon-seong was a taekwondo instructor in Incheon and a big football fan (especially of the late Diego Maradona).
|Valencia B||2017–18||Segunda División B||11||1||—||—||—||11||1|
|2018–19||Segunda División B||15||3||—||—||—||15||3|
- As of 25 March 2021
South Korea U20
- Toulon Tournament Best XI: 2018
- FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Ball: 2019
- Asian Young Footballer of the Year: 2019
- Kopa Trophy nominee: 2019
- Korean Young Footballer of the Year: 2019
- After Lee Chun-soo in 2003 for Real Sociedad, Lee Ho-jin in 2006 for Racing Santander, Park Chu-young in 2012 for Celta Vigo, and Kim Young-gyu in 2013 for Almería
- On 1 November 2020, Yunus Musah broke Lee Kang-in's record, to become the youngest non-Spanish to score for Valencia, aged 17 years and 338 days.
- 엑스포츠인터뷰 -슛돌이 3기 이강인을 만나다 (in Korean). Xportsnews. 11 May 2009.
- 슛돌이 이강인, 발렌시아 CF 유소년팀 입단 (in Korean). Starnews Korea. 6 July 2011.
- "'Valencia, Spain' debut ... 83 Cup of King Cup" (in Spanish). Telereport.com. 31 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
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- "OFFICIAL STATEMENT | Kang In Lee". Valencia CF. 29 August 2021. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
- "Kang In Lee Joins RCD Mallorca on a free transfer". RCD Mallorca. 30 August 2021. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
- "[엠스플 축구] 지도자들 "이강인 '골든볼' 수상 대단하지만 걱정도 되는 게 사실"" (in Korean). MBC SPORTS+. 17 June 2019.
- "Lee, Lunin headline award winners at Poland 2019". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 15 June 2019.
- "South Korea vs. Georgia - Football Match Summary - September 5, 2019 - ESPN". ESPN.com. 5 September 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
- "Meet Lee Kang-in – Valencia's South Korean starlet with an €80 million release clause". Goal.com. Goal.com. 24 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
- ""깡돌아 결승전서 골 기대할게"…이강인 외할머니 응원". news1.kr (in Korean). 15 June 2019.
- "Lee Kang-In". Soccerway. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
- "Kang-in Lee". SofaScore. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
- "Lee Kang-in". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
- "Barcelona 1–2 Valencia". BBC Sport. 25 May 2019. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- "Spirited comeback earns Ukraine first U-20 title". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 15 June 2019.
- "L'équipe type du Festival International Espoirs 2018" (in French). Toulon Tournament. 11 June 2018.
- "AFC Youth Player of the Year (Men) 2019: Lee Kang-in". The-AFC.com. AFC. 2 December 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
- "Voici les dix nommés pour le Trophée Kopa 2019". FranceFootball.fr (in French). France Football. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
- 2019 KFA 시상식 개최...손흥민-지소연 올해의 선수. KFA.or.kr (in Korean). KFA. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.