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Wanderers at The World Cup: Chung-Yong Lee

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Only one Bolton player will be making the trip to Brazil this month. South Korea will be bringing Chung-Yong Lee to South America, but the winger is in a very different place from his 2010 trip to South Africa

On his way to Brazil.
On his way to Brazil.
Chung Sung-Jun

At the conclusion of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa Chung-Yong Lee was named as one of the rising stars of the tournament.  He had just come off a phenomenal debut season in the Premier league for Bolton Wanderers.  He had scored against Argentina in the group stage and Uruguay in the round of 16 for South Korea.  The buzzards were circling as well, in the form of Liverpool and a rumored £12 million bid.

Lee remained at the Reebok though, and had a fine second season with the Whites.  At that point he was still only 23 years old, and the future looked very bright indeed.  Unfortunately, we all know what happened next.  Lee broke his leg in a meaningless pre-season friendly.  He missed just about all of that season, and his absence was a big reason for Bolton's relegation.  Lee has struggled to recover from that injury.  He has really never been the same.  Voices around the South Korean national team blamed this poor form on the physical nature of the English Championship, and strongly suggested that Lee needed to move back to the Premier League in order to cement his place in the World Cup squad.  While it wasn't a surprise that Lee would be on the plane to Brazil, it wouldn't have been too much of a shock if he wasn't.

The 2014 World Cup is a great opportunity for Chung-Yong Lee to re-establish himself on the world stage.  South Korea's group includes Russia, Algeria, and Belgium.  If Lee has a good tournament, many clubs will take notice.  He is still only 25 (26 next month), and has a lot of football left in him.  This could be a good and bad development for Bolton.  Good because one of our most talented footballers will have finally returned to form.  Bad because it will be more difficult to hold on to him going into the final season of his contract.

Supporters of the Mighty Bolton Wanderers might not have a lot to follow during this tournament, but we should all keep a close eye on Chungy.  His performance will say a lot of about the future of the club.