x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Speaking with... Al Ain’s Lee Myung-joo

The midfielder, who last month joined Al Ain from South Korean side Pohang Steelers, is getting to know his new teammates.

Lee Myung-Joo has joined Al Ain. Getty Images
Lee Myung-Joo has joined Al Ain. Getty Images

John McAuley

The midfielder, who last month joined Al Ain from South Korean side Pohang Steelers, is getting to know his new teammates. The Dh18.3 million signing was regularly spotted during Al Ain’s preseason training camp in Italy clutching a piece of paper but, thankfully, it has been discarded.

On why he carried the paper

“I asked for this from the coaches and the administration – it has a drawing of the stadium and photos of Al Ain players in their positions on the pitch and their shirt numbers. Now I’m with my new family members and I must be able to greet them all by name. This will be reflected on the pitch during matches.”

On how the paper has helped him settle

“Now I know everyone in the camp here in Italy and I no longer need this paper. At the beginning of the negotiations I could recognise some players like [Asamoah] Gyan, Omar and Mohammed Abdulrahman, Hilal [Saeed] and Khalid Essa. But later I some matches and could recognise the coach, although I must know everyone to communicate with them.”

On new languages

“I’m learning English to communicate with the team and I expect to learn it through my friends. In a short period I can recognise some Arabic words and I repeated them happily like ‘As-salaam alaykum’ and ‘Yalla shabab’. I like the idea of learning two languages at the same time.”

First impressions

“I had a great image about Al Ain before I arrived, but I was surprised by how all of the players welcomed me warmly and made me feel at home and as if I knew them for so long before. Our coach is great in communicating with the team and everyone likes him and respects him. He has a great coaching mentality.”

On the upcoming campaign

“I know the challenges awaiting us so I promise the fans to show my best to hit our targets. I watched the decisive games last season. The fans were behind the team and I wish to see the stadium full with those supporters.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae