National Team - Lions ● Sep 11, 2021
Song Uiyoung looks back on maiden week with Lions
SINGAPORE, 11 SEPTEMBER 2021 – In his own words, last week was a “very special” one in Song Uiyoung’s life.
The Lion City Sailors midfielder, who turns 28 in November, participated in his first ever Singapore National Team training session on Tuesday (31 August), having been handed his maiden call-up four days prior.
The call-up to the Lions squad came a week after Song was granted Singapore citizenship, having been in the country for 10 years after arriving from his native South Korea in 2010 to begin his professional football journey. Prior to receiving citizenship, Song became a permanent resident in October 2020 on his third attempt.
Song looked right at home with the Lions in his first session and the subsequent ones that followed in the week as he relished the opportunity to be involved with the team. Here, he reflects on the week with FAS.org.sg in the conversation below…
FAS: To receive your first National Team call-up so quickly after becoming a Singaporean must have been quite memorable. How was that week like and what did you make of the first training session?
Song: It was a very honorable feeling that I became a Singapore citizen and then after a few days, the National Team called me up. I did not really expect both things; I just submitted my application and was waiting to hear back so when both happened, it was very, very special because I did not expect that anything was going to happen so soon.
The first session was good, to be able to work with Coach Tatsuma (Yoshida) and with quality players and staff. Everything was good for me and actually, I really appreciated the warm welcome for me by everyone. It was very special when I wore that red jersey. It was great motivation for me and the feeling was not like usual (in other sessions). When I wear the red jersey, I felt very special and fresh.
FAS: Looking back, how did the week go? How was it like working with Coach Tatsuma for the first time?
Song: The intensity was high but I am used to the intensity as training at the Sailors is also intense. But the motivation part was honestly very different; it was very fresh motivation that I felt. Of course for both club and the National Team, I am always doing my best, but the freshness part (of being with the Lions) was different. The new teammates, new staff, new coaches and the new environment all made me feel that everything was very fresh. Obviously, for me, I look up to all the senior players like Hassan Sunny, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman and Yasir Hanapi; all of them are quality players, who have that professionalism that I admire. I will feel very honoured if I can be here again.
Coach Tatsuma said he welcomed me to join the National Team and that he had watched me for the past few years. He was happy for me to be there and I am appreciative of that. On the field, how he pushes the players, how he gives them motivation – it was very impressive how he approached and guided the training. It was also a good opportunity to see and feel his philosophy and tactics, so that I could understand how he wants to play his football.
FAS: What do you think you can bring to the team and how do you hope to contribute?
Song: I have been playing as an attacking midfielder for four or five years and I already have got nearly 50 goals, so I think I can help us in the attacking department. If I get called up again, I hope I can score for the team, for the country – and that will bring me big happiness.
I am a player, not a coach or analyst. As players, even if we are not doing well, we just need to stay positive and work hard together and try to solve the problem together. We are all national players, so I think we have to be really mature to face problems and come together for the country and make it better.
FAS: It was unfortunate that we were unable to play an international match during the window but surely you must have thought about how it would feel like to don the National Team jersey.
Of course, I have thought about it and I am really looking forward to it. If I can get to represent Singapore – it is difficult to imagine that right now – it will be a really, really big milestone in my life. I really want to show good performances to the fans and the country, and I really want to help the team win.
FAS: What would you say is your most Singaporean trait?
I already have a Singapore passport, and everybody now calls me Singaporean and that is enough for me! But if I need to choose, maybe kaya toast and kopi! [Laughs] I like to go to Toast Box. If I have time and I do not have morning training, most of the time I’ll be there. My go-to drink is just normal kopi, sometimes with less sugar!
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FAS: There has consistently been very strong support from fans, both in the past and now that you are a Singaporean, regarding your desire to play for the Lions. What do you want to say to those who have supported you?
I want to say that I really appreciate all of this support for me. I have always stated that that I am very comfortable here in Singapore and I am very happy to be in the country. I started my professional football journey here and it just feels natural to me that I want to play for the country.
What I can do for the fans is to work hard and to show good performances for them, for the country. I think that is the only way I can pay back all the support. Most fans tell me to make them proud, so I really want to make them proud with my hard work. So I am going to do my best, I am going to make myself better. I think I have to do it for the fans, for the country.