Kim Jin-hyeon has become the player with the most league appearances in the club’s history after Hiroaki Morishima as Nikkan Sports reported yesterday.
He made his 361st league appearance yesterday in the match against Shonan Bellmare, in which he made a huge contribution to the team’s clean sheet victory with big saves (Highlights here).
Kim Jin-hyeon joined Cerezo Osaka in 2009. Then he was still 21 years old, which can be considered young for a goalkeeper, but he grabbed a place in the starting lineup and played 50 league matches that year. Since then, he has been the guardian of Cerezo Osaka for more than 10 years.
I still remember when he made his debut for Cerezo Osaka. Technically, it wasn’t the 2009 season opener, but Hiroaki Morishima’s retirement friendly match against Gamba Osaka. I was at Nagai Stadium. It was his first professional match and no wonder his performance wasn’t good. Levir Culpi, the then manager, already decided to let other experienced goalkeepers leave and use Kim as a starter. To be honest, then I wondered if he was good enough to be a starting goalkeeper. Soon it turned out that I was wrong.
Kim developed into a national team player and must have had opportunities to leave the club several times, but he didn’t. Even when the team were relegated and had to play in the second division, he thought “the team and supporters helped me a lot in developing as a player,” so “escaping because the situation is bad is not what a man should do. If I escape now, I may repeat the same thing not just in football life, but also when I will face a challenge after retirement. Football makes me happiest in my life, but I just don’t want to escape because of such a thing.” (JoongAng Ilbo)
A few years ago, he received formal offers from J1 champions Kashima Antlers and K-League champions FC Seoul. It’s pretty much easy to imagine how attractive these were. But this time again, he eventually decided to stay. “It is rare and difficult for a foreign player to play at the same club from debut to retirement. I have played at Cerezo for 8 years, and considered my future. After thinking various things, I thought I couldn’t leave Cerezo.” (Sports Nippon)
And now, he is coming close to the end of his 11th season with Cerezo. It is already reported that he is set to stay at Cerezo next season too, which will be confirmed after the season ends. He is now 32 years old but “still developing” as club-legend-turned-club-president Hiroaki Morishima told Nikkan Sports. He currently has the best save rate in the league (80.3%) among goalkeepers with more than 5 appearances this season according to Opta and is helping Cerezo being the team with the least goals conceded in the league.