Fabio Cannavaro is not prone to giving out undue recognition. But he passed on strong praise to a member of Korea Republic’s coaching staff when the Taeguk Warriors came to China PR last July to watch Tianjin Quanjian’s Kwon Kyungwon.

  • Kwon Kyungwon a rising star inTaeguk Warriors’ Russia 2018 squad
  • The center-back has played for clubs in the United Arab Emirates and China
  • Kwon mentored by 2006 World Cup-winning skipper Fabio Cannavaro

“He is a good player,” the then Tianjin coach told the South Korean visitor about Kwon. “He is capable of playing in European leagues. It would be the national team’s loss should he not be called up.”

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We all came to know that Kwon earned his first ever national team cap a couple of months later, debuting in a friendly match against Russia, though he was on target by different media persons, players, and staff.

In-form Kwon inspired by Cannavaro's endorsement
In-form Kwon inspired by Cannavaro’s endorsement

Just last week the Tianjin center-back was named in Shin Taeyong’s 28-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, an interesting inclusion for a relatively new face who has just four international appearances to his name.

Kwon’s remarkable progress under Cannavaro during the past season cannot be understated. It is a fact which the player is ready to acknowledge.

“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.”

Cannavaro is the driving force behind this man because a player of such qualities under his leadership would definitely learn a lot. Cannavaro is the man who won The Best FIFA Men’s Player in FIFA World cup 2006 after captaining Italy, probably one of the best defenders of all times, we all know about his skills, experiences, the way he started his career and went through different difficult phrases of his life, it is simply remarkable. Definitely under such leadership Kwon would have leant a lot.

“As a defender, what used to confuse me was how much space you should keep between yourself and the attacking players,” he once revealed to local Chinese media. “Then Cannavaro gave me the answer – to keep an arm’s distance so that you are easy to make contact to the players you are marking. But you need to re-adjust the technique a bit by allowing more space when dealing with a physically stronger and bigger player. That is so useful and practical for me.”

The Italian influence in China
Joining Tianjin at the start of 2017, Kwon spent the first months with the Chinese Super League club warming the bench. Having trained hard and learned fast under the Italian mentor, he gradually made his presence felt by securing a starting place starting from the middle of the past season. He has emerged an integral part as his side finished among the top three and earned a place in the AFC Champions League playoffs.

It likely to achieve your dream when your name is included in Korea Republic’s Russia 2018 squad, Kwon is now amongst those who wrote their names in this list, representing his country in a FIFA World cup, His eye-catching form made it possible to play such a big event. This time he has set fresh goals of following the footsteps of Kim Namil, one of Korea Republic’s heroes at Korea/Japan 2002.

“He is my idol,” Kwon said of the member of Taeguk Warrior’s managerial staff, who earned the nickname ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ in his playing days due to his strong defensive performances. “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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