Sydney FC centre half Alex Wilkinson is set to come up against a Korean football “legend” as well as former team-mate on Wednesday night when 40-year old striker Lee-Dong-gook takes to the pitch against the Sky Blues’ Asian Cup winner.
Wilkinson spent three seasons with this week’s Champions League opponents Jeonbuk Motors FC, for whom the Korean international has been banging in goals for more than a decade.
Dong-gook, who was born in 1979, and is the leading goalscorer in AFC Champions League history with 37 goals.
He has notched up over 300 appearances for the Korean Champions since 2009 as well as more than 150 goals for the club.
The tall forward has played 105 times for the Korean national team in a career which has taken him to the heights of the English Premier League with Middlesbrough in 2007.
“He’s somewhat of a legend in Korean football, having also played in the top leagues in England and Germany as well,” said Wilkinson.
“It will be difficult, even though he’s 40 years old he’s still banging in the goals it seems.
“I remember playing against him in training and he’s a good player who can finish with both feet and is good in the air.
“He’s an out and out poacher and has the ability to finish from anyway, he’s a very dangerous player.”
Wilkinson won the K-League title in Korea with Jeonbuk during his time with the club and still has a number of friends whom he remembers.
“I’ve had a couple of text messages from the backroom staff and the physio and kit man who arrived here yesterday.
“There are still a few players I played with who are there so I’ll be familiar with a few of them, but they’ve got a new coach so will no doubt employ different tactics and a different style.
“Winning is important in your homes games in the Champions League and we need to take advantage of the fact they haven’t started their season, so we should have superior fitness.”
Sydney FC take Jeonbuk Motors FC in the second match of their Group H in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday night.
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