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Interview: Ulsan Hyundai goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo

league 2023.12.04   I   hits 338

Ulsan Hyundai goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo says that belief and desire are what helped the Horangi lift a second K League 1 title in as many seasons, not to mention the experience of going all the way in 2022. He also says that while he's at Ulsan he wants to win as many trophies as possible but also leave a lasting impression with the fans.

The 2023 K League 1 season came to a close on Sunday 3rd December and for Ulsan it ended how it began, with a home win over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Jo Hyeon-woo started in goal ahead of the trophy presentation and title celebrations, reclaiming his place after Jo Su-huk was handed a rare start away to Incheon United in Round 37. Jo Hyeon-woo kept a cleansheet, his 13th of the season in the league, the joint-most along with Gwangju FC's Kim Kyung-min.

Speaking to KLeague.com, Jo Hyeon-woo looks back on another successful season with Ulsan Hyundai.

Q. First of all, how do you feel about winning a second K League 1 title with Ulsan Hyundai?

A. In 2020 when I signed for Ulsan Hyundai, I said I wanted to lift league titles and trophies. In my first season, the club lifted the Asian Champions League and after a few attempts, lifted the league title trophy last year. We've won the league for the second year in a row this year, all those wins were difficult but winning the league this year was the one that's closest to my heart. [When we won the title] we weren't able to physically lift the trophy and so until we [did] that it didn't really feel real. But winning a trophy is always something that's thrilling.

Q. They say that the second title is the hardest but Ulsan won the league earlier than they did last year. What do you think about that?

A. The experience of winning last year and with belief and desire from the players, I think. Other team sports will be similar but in football in particular, teamwork directly affects what results you get. During the first two round robins we were very strong and so based on this, we were able to endure even the difficult times and win the championship faster than last year. There are still matches to go; we have the ACL and if we want to make it out of the group then we have to keep going. My personal secret is not to settle for reality and to do my best in my position to bring the results the team and fans want, so I will focus more on this and help our team finish this season well.

Q. Going back to the match against Daegu FC when the title was officially sealed, how did that feel? It looked a bit different compared to last year. Was it more a relief, was it joy?

A. It was happiness. Rather than relief or anxiety, it was the joy of achievement. In time added on at the end of the second half, Jang Si-young scored and the club's video content team was able to capture the sheer joy. I could see my own joy in that video after watching it back myself. To be honest, we always thought we'd win the title but then when sealing kind of got pushed back, we became a bit more desperate and found extra focus and motivation to win it.

Q. Have you been satisfied with your own performances? Up until the Daegu win it was 12 cleansheets in the league this season, two more than last year.

A. Well, thanks to your question I now know about my cleansheet record for this season. But, to speak directly, rather than cleansheets for me, it's about the team winning - from the start of the season all the way through to the end. Ultimately, the goal is to perform well and enjoy a grand finale with the fans. Of course, cleansheets would help with that.

Q. You've won two K League 1 championships with Ulsan and an FA Cup with Daegu FC. What else would you like to achieve?

A. To win many games and trophies for the fans. It's good if there are as many trophies as possible, but what is as important as trophies is the players here at Ulsan Hyundai remain in the memories of the fans. I don't know if that will be a treble or what kind of performance it will be, but I will do my best.