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"The most talented I've worked with" - how Ki Sung-Yueng is described by former Wales international Jeff Hopkins

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: June 17, 2014

Swansea City's Ki Sung- Yueng.

Comments (24)

SWANSEA could play a big part in Ki Sung-Yueng's future — after one of the city's sons had a major influence on his past.

Ki is preparing for South Korea's first World Cup game against Russia tonight, with Garry Monk waiting to welcome him back into the Liberty fold after a campaign spent in Sunderland.

It is hoped the club can provide the talented midfielder with the platform to produce his best as Swansea City gear up for another assault on the Premier League.

The 25-year-old arrived in South Wales from Celtic in August 2013 for a then club record £5.5 million.

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That represented another big step on a career that began when he was sent to Australia in 2001.

Ki enrolled on an elite football programme at John Paul College in Brisbane, run by Swansea-born former Wales international Jeff Hopkins.

The 50-year-old won 16 international caps during a career that included spells with Fulham, Crystal Palace, Plymouth Argyle, Bristol Rovers and Reading.

And he remembers the young Ki well, though back then the youngster called himself David.

"I first met David when he was 14 when I was appointed as his head coach," remembers Hopkins.

"He impressed me straight away with his football qualities. He was technically excellent, his ball striking was equally effective with either foot and he had a great range of passing.

"He was a great decision-maker and calm and comfortable in possession of the ball, unusual for a kid of his age.

"But, as much as that impressed me, he was just as impressive as a person. He was respectful and polite but very self-driven and confident.

"He wanted to listen and was keen to learn and work hard. The biggest problem I had was stopping him over training.

"David was and still is the most talented young player I have worked with, and I had a good idea he was going to at least have a good professional career in the Korean league."

In 2005 Ki received an offer to join Australian A League side Brisbane Roar, but opted instead to return home and signed for FC Seoul.

Ki shone playing in national under-17, 20 and 23 sides, making his full South Korea debut in 2008.

A year later he was snapped up by Celtic for just over £2 million.

"Once he left and joined Seoul FC and became part of the junior national teams things really took off for him and it wasn't long before the scouts from Europe started to take notice," said Hopkins.

"I remember thinking when he moved to Celtic that he definitely had the personality and temperament to take it in his stride and it would not be long before he moved on to the Premier League.

"I was really pleased when he joined Swansea not only because it was my home town but because the football philosophy of the club suits David's game.

"Swansea are the team along with Fulham that I always follow so I could keep an even closer eye on him.

"He is still young and although he has achieved a great deal already, I still feel he will keep getting better so his best football could still be ahead of him.

"With his personality, I am sure David still has a lot of great football ahead of him and lots he still wants to achieve."

At the moment Ki's focus will be on performing for his country as they begin against Russia in Brazil this evening.

Belgium and Algeria are the other sides in a group that appears more open than many.

"It will be great seeing David play in Brazil over the next few weeks and I will look on with a great deal of pride," added Hopkins.

"He has achieved so much for himself in a short period of time.

"He will be a key player for South Korea, and it's very important that key players perform in a group where they have a good chance of progressing."

Swansea City

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  • moggs  |  June 18 2014, 12:49PM

    yanky,I am very tolerant of people's views,and am happy that they air them. There are many who will not countenance views that oppose theirs. I merely offer an alternative,and usually support the underdog. Hence my defence of Laudrup,on this,and other outlets. With regards LB since I haven't heard it,you are right to correct me.

  • yankytaff  |  June 18 2014, 10:03AM

    Moggs you assume wrong LB wasn't singing GM's praises why don't you listen to it, players moronic opinions !!! I think you'e the one that needs to be more tolerant of other people's point of view and for the record I have never criticised ML, as for GM not achieving anything, what exactly do you wish he'd achieved in 3 months maybe if you explain that people will understand you point of view.

  • moggs  |  June 18 2014, 9:23AM

    My "sneering" as you put it,yanky,is merely offering up alternative opinions. Laudrup has been the target of boring,repetitive sniping,and I tried to level the playing field. Some on here take a contrary viewpoint with a complete of grace and acceptance. Time for those people to grow up. As for listening to player's and their often moronic outpourings,I'll pass on that.I assume Britton is ringing Monk's praises. What else would you expect him to do? Oh,and Monk hasn't achieved anything,and I state that based on fact, and not sneering.

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  • trncjack  |  June 18 2014, 8:13AM

    i know russia is not the greatest team in the world , but i thought one of the best players on the park playing against them was KI he put in a good shift ,tackled well ,and his control in midfield was superb , and i think he will be good back up for our midfield ,sitting on the bench

  • yankytaff  |  June 18 2014, 8:05AM

    Moggs as I have said before some times criticism is blatant others times less so, there have been previous post when you have sneered Monk has achieved nothing since becoming manager which is a form of criticism. As for winning cups and top 10 finishes I suggest you have a listen to Leon Britton's interview on the club website it may give you some perspective. I won't hold my breath however.

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  • moggs  |  June 18 2014, 7:46AM

    WhiteRock. Shelvey and De Guzman are regularly maligned by know it all Swansea fans'. Ki hasn't played for The Swans' for some time,so what are you basing your dismissal of him on? Blinkered Sunderland fans',that's who. Ki would need a run in The Swans' side before finally dismissing him as readily as you have.

  • moggs  |  June 18 2014, 6:12AM

    Listen up bigphil,you might just learn something. To date,managerially speaking, Monk has achieved zilch. Now when he takes the team into the top half of the P.L. and perhaps wins a Cup,or two,you can come on here and criticise others who criticise him,or seem to, in your fawning eyes. Just for the record I have never criticised Monk,and your post is quite disingenuos to suggest otherwise. Having an opinion is not, per se, criticism,and you need to be aware of that. You are not alone,however,in your one eyed view of the world. There are quite a few who post here on a regular basis. Hope you have learned something and can put that new found knowledge to good use. I won't hold my breath,however.

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  • White_Rock  |  June 18 2014, 6:04AM

    "I think it's safe to discount any comment from a Sunderland fan now,since Ki is no longer part of their set up" Convenient when that view challenges the accepted belief that he's worth having back. Ki isn't much cop. We overpaid by a good £3m, yet somehow hundreds of people have convinced themselves that a light tackling, rarely creative midfielder is the missing link in our team. Shelvey is 10x the player. As is De Guzman.

  • KP287  |  June 17 2014, 11:05PM

    Maybe that should read certain people, not anyone, apologies to the few who sometimes agree with me...

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  • KP287  |  June 17 2014, 11:02PM

    I don`t give a t@ss, what anyone thinks of my comments, they are mine and I am entitled to them, if you don`t agree say why not, if you are incapable of this then say nothing... At least I try and explain my thinking...

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