South Korean midfielder Hwang In-beom, 안전놀이터who left Greece and moved to Serbia’s prestigious FK Crvena Zvezda, showed extraordinary determination to play an active part in the ‘War of Stars’.
Serbian Superliga (1st division league) Zvezda announced on the club’s official website on the 14th (Korean time), “At the Stadion Raiko Mitic Media Center, we are introducing Hwang In-beom, who signed a four-year contract with our club and was given jersey number 66. ” he announced.
Hwang In-beom’s transfer to Zvezda had already been decided. On the 5th, Zvezda officially announced his recruitment, saying, “We have signed a four-year contract with midfielder Hwang In-beom.” The transfer fee was not disclosed, but it is known that Zvezda will pay 5.5 million euros (about 7.8 billion won) to Olympiacos in installments over three years.
This amount was revealed to be the highest transfer fee in the club’s history. This means that Zvezda valued Hwang In-beom that much higher. Zvezda, well known as the team that enjoyed the most spectacular time in Eastern Europe beyond Serbia, including winning the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) in 1991, has recently represented Serbia in the UEFA (European Football Association), although not as much as in the past. It maintains its status as a prestigious club, consistently participating in UEFA club competitions.
In the 2023/24 season, they will advance to the UEFA Champions League finals and play the first group match against defending champion Manchester City on the 20th. Zvezda was placed in Group G along with Manchester City (England), RB Leipzig (Germany), and BSC Young Boys (Switzerland) in this year’s Champions League.
In such a situation, the news of Hwang In-beom’s transfer is becoming a big issue in the Serbian soccer world. According to Serbian media, Zvezdan Derzic, who serves as the president of the Zvezda club, said of the signing of Hwang In-beom, “He is the club’s best player over the past 30 years,” and is expressing strong expectations for the player even though he has not even debuted yet.
In addition, Serbian media outlet ‘Repubblica’ reported on the 5th that “Red Star’s new midfielder is not an ordinary soccer player.” Because Zvezda is translated as ‘red star’, in Western Europe, Zvezda has been called ‘Red Star Belgrade’ for a long time.
Repubblica said, “In-Beom Hwang has a very interesting biography and will attract the attention of fans. He is the most expensive recruit in the team’s history. He started his career in Daejeon, became the youngest scorer in Daejeon history, and has a place in MLS with Vancouver. “After that, I returned to Seoul via Rubin Kazan, and arrived at Zvezda from Olympiakos,” he said, talking about Hwang In-beom’s career as a soccer player.
Zvezda was the birthplace of star players who led the heyday of Yugoslav soccer in the 1990s. Sinisa Mihajlovic, who made a name for himself with his long-distance free kicks, Dragan Stojkovic, who was the best technician in Eastern Europe and spent a long time as manager of a Japanese J-League club, and Dejan Savičević, who dominated an era as a starting striker at AC Milan, all rose to prominence through Zvezda. .
In a place where stars are pouring out, Hwang In-beom is wearing a uniform and running.
Zvezda could not hide its joy when the recruitment of Hwang In-beom was officially completed. Mitar Mrkela, club director, said, “We are pleased to introduce Hwang In-beom, a former Olympiakos player and member of the Korean national team. He is someone we have been watching for a long time and wanted to bring in last year as well.”
He went on to say, “We didn’t succeed then, but the most important thing is that we succeed now. Hwang In-beom is playing in the center, and he has the profile we were looking for, so he will create the balance we need in midfield.”
Hwang In-beom, who advanced to Serbia, also said in an interview, “I’m excited to come to Red Star and play in front of fantastic fans,” and “I’m grateful to the people at Zvezda who recruited me and gave me the opportunity to play for such a big club.” revealed.
He also expressed his anticipation, saying, “I arrived in Belgrade (the capital of Serbia) last night and I was really happy. I think my wife will like this city too. I’m really happy to be here.”
When asked about the history of the Zvezda team, Hwang In-beom said, “Zvezda is not only the biggest club in Serbia, but I also know it as one of the big clubs in Europe.” He added, “It is a club that won the Champions League in 1991, and it can boast of this in Europe.” “There are not many clubs that exist,” he said, showing respect for the club’s history.
“I know the Zvezda fans are just as passionate as Olympiacos and that motivates us a lot on the pitch,” he said. “I believe things will get better in the future and I think I can help in that regard.”
Hwang In-beom cited the ‘War of Stars’ Champions League as the biggest reason for moving to Zvezda. “The Champions League is a big reason why I am here. We all want to play in the best competition in the world,” he insisted. “I am ready to play for Zvezda with my teammates to introduce myself to the fans.”
Regarding the teams he will face in the Champions League group stage, he said, “There is no easy group in the Champions League. We are a good team and we are happy to play against big European clubs like Manchester City.” “I’m not afraid of anyone. I think we can beat anyone in Group G,” he said, expressing confidence.
In-beom Hwang attracted attention by revealing that he asked Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton Wanderers), who are active in the Premier League, about Manchester City. “I asked him about Manchester City and he said everyone has to be ready to run for 90 minutes non-stop. That’s something I can do,” he said.
“We have to run non-stop, but I don’t think we will defend for 90 minutes. We have to score goals to win, whether the opponent is Manchester City or Leipzig,” he said. “We have to win the Champions League, and we have to defend to avoid a draw.” “I have to play for the team. I’m ready to help the team and I’m ready to play like a dog,” he said.
Asked about the pressure, he said: “I like the pressure. I’m happy to be at a big club and it doesn’t affect me whether I get the most expensive contract. “I just want to join my team-mates and feel good on the field. “I just want to show myself. I can overcome any pressure,” he said calmly.
He added, “There is pressure not because I am paid a lot, but because I fit in with this club. I will do my best to help the team, show character and score as many goals through assists.”
Hwang In-beom started a new soccer career in Serbia by wearing the Zvezda uniform, but the transfer process was by no means easy. This is because he suffered great difficulties due to a contract-related dispute with his former team, Olympiacos.
In-Beom Hwang once again entered Europe, transferring from FC Seoul to Olympiacos ahead of the 2022/23 season. He scored five goals and provided four assists in 40 appearances for Olympiacos during the 2022/23 season. Unfortunately, he failed to achieve double-digit attack points, but with a pass success rate of 89.1%, he was recognized as the best midfielder in the Greek first division, surpassing Olympiacos. After the season, he was selected as the season MVP by Olympiacos fans, confirming his best performance.
Since then, Hwang In-beom has raised his stock price by receiving interest from Saudi Arabia, Serie A, and the Bundesliga. The possibility of signing Hwang In-beom from Inter Milan and Napoli, as well as Bundesliga clubs Frankfurt and Freiburg, were mentioned, with the possibility of a transfer emerging.
However, Hwang In-beom’s situation did not go smoothly. Due to the sudden change of manager and the conflict with the club regarding the contract, Hwang In-beom found himself in a situation where it was difficult for the transfer to take place.
Coach Diego Martinez, who took over as head coach of Olympiacos ahead of this season, did not judge Hwang In-beom to be a key player. Hwang In-beom, who deviated from Coach Martinez’s plan, has been consistently excluded from the team’s starting plan since starting in the preseason game against Norseland (Denmark) on July 14.
In the end, Hwang In-beom considered a transfer to secure playing time, but in the process, conflict regarding the contract with the club arose.
Regarding the contract situation between Hwang In-beom and Olympiacos, Greek media reported that the player claimed to have signed a 1-year + 2-year contract, while the club insisted on a 3-year contract. The player’s side then requested that a buyout clause of 3 million euros (approximately 4.4 billion won) be applied, but it was reported that the club would only transfer the player if a transfer fee of 10 million euros (approximately 14.3 billion won) was received. Afterwards, there was news that it could lead to a legal battle.
Some media said, “The most realistic option is for him to quit football by the end of the year. The fact that the current situation is very complicated is proven by the fact that Hwang In-beom could not go to Italy. Olympiacos demanded 10 million euros, and Atalanta refused to pay the transfer fee. He said, “Atalanta, who had succeeded in reaching a personal agreement with Hwang In-beom, refused to pay the transfer fee, and the transfer had already been canceled once.
In addition to Atalanta, Monza (Italy), Freiburg, Mönchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Fenerbahce, Galatasaray (Turkiye), etc. showed interest, but negotiations with Olympiakos did not proceed smoothly and each team Their interest also failed to progress through negotiations between the clubs.
In this situation, Zvezda recruited Hwang In-beom, avoiding a contract dispute with Olympiacos and gaining a new opportunity at a club participating in the Champions League. Attention is focused on whether Hwang In-beom, who joined Zvezda in a new stage called Serbia, will be able to repay the faith of the club that recognized his value this season.