Kwon set for World stage after lessons from Cannavaro

South Korea's Kwon Kyungwon has made a rapid rise to the national team after a stint under Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro.

Kwon in action for South Korea against North Korea   -  Getty Images

 

"It would be the national team's loss should he not be called up. He is capable of playing in the European leagues." Fabio Cannavaro had this to say to Korea Republic's coaching staff when they paid a visit to China to scout Tianjin Quanjian's Kwon Kyungwon last July.

The advice seemed to have bought into by the then newly appointed coach of the national team Shin Tae-Young as Kwon won his first cap in a friendly against Russia in October. Despite the central defender getting on the scoresheet, the Taeguk Warriors went down 4-2.

Last week, Kwon was named in Taeyong's 28-man provisional squad for the World Cup in Russia. And Kwon acknowledges the strides he made under the guidance of former manager Cannavaro.

"He (Cannavaro) passed on his valuable experiences and knowledge to me," the 26-year-old told FIFA.com. "Before he was one of the world's best players and now he is a very good coach. He taught me in detail how to play and how to train, and I am so lucky in that regard."

It was not a smooth transition for Kwon when he made a move from Al Ahli to the Chinese Super League at the start of 2017. His first few months at the club were spent warming the bench before learning from the Italian World Cup winner and earning his trust.

Since then, he has been a regular fixture in the side as he helped Tianjin finish third and earn a place in the AFC Champions League play-offs.

After he secures his berth in the 23-man World Cup squad, Kwon wants to emulate the heroics of former Taeguk Warrior Kim Namil. Namil was one of the stars at Korea/Japan 2002 and will be a part of the coaching staff in Russia.

“He is my idol,” Kwon said of Namil. “He taught me a lot both on and off the pitch when we played together (with Jeonbuk Motors). I admire him both as a great player and as a person.”

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