Opinion

Who is Hwang Hee-chan? Things to know about the South Korea superstar

Tom Gott
Hwang could be set for another move
Hwang could be set for another move / ANDREAS GEBERT/Getty Images
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The Red Bull Salzburg team of 2019/20 was one of the most exciting teams of recent memory. It gave players like Erling Haaland and Dominik Szoboszlai a platform on which to impress, but one who flew under the radar somewhat was South Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan.

Hwang made the move to RB Leipzig in the summer of 2020, but is already being courted by a handful of sides across Europe, with West Ham United the latest side to express an interest.

Here, 90min profiles a player still relatively unknown to the vast majority.


1. His nickname is 'The Bull'

Hwang causes problems for defenders
Hwang causes problems for defenders / TF-Images/Getty Images

Hwang's aggressive style of play has earned him the nickname 'The Bull' or 'The Angry Bull', largely because he loves charging at defenders and terrifying them.

It's a playstyle which has brought comparisons to Luis Suarez, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney - those players who love getting more than a little physical with their opponents.

Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann pointed out in an interview (via bundesliga.com): "You only have to look at his thighs - he's a real handful for opposition defenders. He can run at the opposition, play with his back to goal and create chances."

2. He's been compared to Roberto Firmino

Hwang has been compared to Firmino
Hwang has been compared to Firmino / Pool/Getty Images

One thing which stands out when watching Hwang's game is his intelligence.

With the kind of vision most players can only dream of, Hwang is a master of knowing how to position his body and where he needs to stand on the pitch, and his love of exploiting space has earned him comparisons to Liverpool's Roberto Firmino.

He's not afraid to sacrifice himself in the hope of helping a team-mate, and you'll regularly see him drag defenders out of position to open up a path for another forward.

3. He's famous for rinsing Virgil van Dijk

As was the case with many Red Bull Salzburg players, the meeting with Liverpool in October 2019 was a breakout moment for Hwang, who ended the 4-3 loss with a goal and an assist.

His goal has earned Hwang somewhat of a cult following online because it involved him turning Virgil van Dijk inside out - something most players fail to do.

He told Goal: "I knew that Van Dijk was great, but I didn't have the mindset of 'I have to get away from him' or 'how can I beat him?' in Liverpool. It was important to win. It was great, glorious to beat such a player."

4. Jurgen Klopp described him as a 'machine'

Klopp was impressed with Hwang
Klopp was impressed with Hwang / Pool/Getty Images

Sticking with that Liverpool game, Hwang's performance did not go unnoticed by Jurgen Klopp.

While the Liverpool boss ultimately chose to sign Takumi Minamino from Salzburg instead, Hwang revealed that Klopp sought him out after the match to call him 'a machine'.

5. He watched Suarez & Neymar for help with finishing

Hwang turned to Neymar & Suarez for help
Hwang turned to Neymar & Suarez for help / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Towards the beginning of his time in Europe, Hwang's finishing was often described as a major problem in his game. During a loan spell with Hamburn in 2018/19, it was described as 'weak and crubby' - so poor it was actually funny.

He confessed to JoongAng Ilbo that he was devastated by those comments and turned to footage of Luis Suarez and Neymar (two players he regularly brings up) to help him figure it out.

Hwang went on to score 16 goals in 2019/20, finishing the season with one of the highest shot accuracy percentages in Europe. Good work.

6. Park Ji-sung helped him fall in love with the Premier League

Hwang used to watch Park
Hwang used to watch Park / Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Manchester United legend Park Ji-sung is the benchmark against which every South Korean player is measured, and Hwang credits the former winger with helping him fall in love with the game.

In an interview with Bild, Hwang was asked whether he would ever consider a move to the Premier League, and the striker name-dropped Park as the entire reason he fell in love with English football.

He hopes to follow in Park's footsteps and make it to the Premier League one day, and there are no shortage of suitors vying for his signature.

7. He's a beast on FIFA 21

FIFA 21 players fell in love with Hwang
FIFA 21 players fell in love with Hwang / TF-Images/Getty Images

In the early stages of FIFA 21, you couldn't go more than two or three games without coming up against an opponent with Hwang in their team.

He's just 77 overall but comes with 93 pace, 79 dribbling and 75 shooting, and when used correctly, Hwang ended up terrorising players all over the globe.

Hwang was given a Ones to Watch card via Squad Building Challenge early in the game, and just one upgrade could bring an end to the world as we know it.


For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

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