"축구에 손흥민이 있다면 미식축구에는 구영호가 있다" VIDEO: How Younghoe Koo's career went from NFL nightmare to the Pro Bowl

How Younghoe Koo's career went from NFL nightmare to the Pro Bowl

27 Dec, 2020 Joon Lee ESPN


IN SEPTEMBER 2017, 23-year-old Younghoe Koo was living the life he dreamed up for himself way back in middle school. A few months after graduating from Georgia Southern as a first-team all-conference kicker, Koo signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent. He beat out the incumbent, Josh Lambo, in training camp and was about to become the fourth player born in South Korea in NFL history. On the day he made the Chargers' roster, he became a social media sensation after a clip of him doing a backflip and kicking a field goal went viral (it has now tallied more than 2.3 million views and 8,400 retweets).


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NFL 한국 출신 키커 구영회, 올스타 첫 선출


애틀랜타 팰컨스 소속


     아시아계 선수가 극히 적은 미국프로풋볼 NFL에서 한국 출신 키커가 존재감을 드러내고 있다. 애틀랜타 팰컨스의 구영회(26)는 12월27일의 캔자스시티 치프스와의 경기 종료 시에 리그 최다인 35개의 필드골을 성공시켜 성공률 94.6%를 기록. 신종 코로나바이러스(코로나19)로 중지된 올스타전인 프로볼에도 처음으로 선출됐다.


초등학생 때 미국에 이주한 전 축구 소년. 스포츠 전문 방송국 ESPN(인터넷판)에 따르면, 킥력에 놀란 친구의 권유로 아메리칸 풋볼에 몰두했다. NFL에 자신을 투영할 수 있는 한국 선수가 없는 가운데 "그렇다면 나 자신이 그렇게 되자"라고 결의. 조지아 서던대에서 2017년에 차저스에 입단해 꿈을 이뤘다.

©교도통신사


https://www.47news.jp/korean/main


edited by kcontents


"It very much felt like a dream," says Ava Maurer, Koo's girlfriend since eighth grade.



But the next four weeks were more like a nightmare. The Chargers went 0-4. Koo made just three of his first six field goal attempts, missing a game-tying attempt against the Denver Broncos in the season opener and a game-winning attempt against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. A month into his first professional season, Koo found himself walking out of the Chargers offices a free agent, his locker packed up into bags.


"I played it cool, but emotionally ..." Koo says, "I was emotional. I was just there, and then the next thing I know, I'm unemployed. I didn't really know what was going on, man. I didn't know what to think. It was my first time experiencing that."


NFL.com

edited by kcontents


On top of the shock of a life without football for the first time in more than a decade, suddenly a deal that Koo had made a few months earlier came into sharper focus. Before he graduated, Koo was constantly fielding questions from friends and family, who reminded him of the slim chances of getting one of just 32 kicking jobs. So when he left Georgia Southern, Koo gave himself a deadline to make it in the NFL. Three years, and only three years. When the clock ran out, he would force himself to find something else to do with his life.


Standing outside the Chargers' facility, three years didn't seem like very long at all.




But giving up before the clock ticked down wasn't an option.


"I tried to get a backup plan, this and that, but it just never sat right with me. I felt I was wasting energy," Koo says. "If it doesn't work out -- then I'll put all my energy into something else. But I can sit at a desk and get a job when I'm 40. I can't kick a ball when I'm 40."


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https://www.espn.co.uk/nfl/story/_/id/30588259/how-younghoe-koo-career-went-nfl-nightmare-pro-bowl


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