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One to watch: Sung-Yueng Ki

Since Japan and South Korea were joint hosts of the 2002 World Cup finals, football in Asia has been on the up.

South Korean midfielder Sung-Yueng Ki was just 13-years-old when his country got all the way to the semi-finals, where they bravely succumbed to a strong German outfit.

Back then, it was clear to see that the South Koreans were tactically astute and possessed some talented, hard working and naturally gifted individual players. 

Ki was educated in Australia as a teenager and became fluent in English after living out there. He began his footballing career in his homeland of South Korea at FC Seoul. The midfielder joined the club in 2007 and made 64 appearances, scoring seven goals in the process.

His exploits in the K-League earned him a move to Scotland after Tony Mowbray – who was manager at the time – persuaded The Bhoys' board to part with £2.1m in January of 2010. Ki has been an integral part of the Celtic team ever since. After joining midway through the 2009/10 season, the midfielder featured for his new club 10 times. 

Mowbray was sacked midway through the 2009/10 season and was replaced by Neill Lennon. Although Ki was not a Lennon signing, the midfielder still played a significant role in the Northern Irishman's first full season in charge. In the 2010/11 season, Ki notched up 35 appearances for Celtic and scored his first goal for the club in a game against St Mirren.

Sung-Yueng Ki

D.O.B: 24.01.1989 (22)
Nationality: South Korean (24 caps)
Club: Celtic (Scotland)
Position: Midfielder

This season, Ki has continued where he left off last. Celtic have played nine league games so far and the reigning Young Asian Player of the Year has played in all but one of those games.

He has featured in each of Celtic's four Europa League fixtures this season. The midfielder is also a key man in the Korean national team.

At 22-years-old, he already has 24 international caps to his name and is an established regular first team player.

He is regarded as one of the brightest talents to come from South Korea since Manchester United winger Ji-Sung Park.

Unlike his compatriot at United, Ki is a forward-thinking central midfielder who is comfortable in possession of the ball and plays with an elegance. He is a great passer and possesses a lethal shot.

Naturally right footed, he can strike the ball well and has great vision for a pass. He left foot is just as effective.

The midfielder definitely looks set to have a bright future ahead of him. He has experience at the highest level of international football after featuring in all of South Korea's games in the 2010 World Cup and he also has Champions League and Europa League experience with Celtic.

If he maintains his consistent good form under Lennon, it will only be a matter of time until we see the South Korean playing for one of Europe's top clubs.

By Eugene Allen

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