South Korean forward Cho Gue-sung has bagged millions of followers and marriage proposals after a brace against Ghana in 2022 World Cup.
Asian football fans had turned South Korean striker Cho Gue-sung into a famous idol after he scored a brace against Ghana in their second World Cup group game.
The South Koreans drew their opening game against Uruguay but put in a more scintillating performance against Ghana.
Despite suffering a 3-2 defeat against the Black Stars, the Koreans showed some improvement and momentum going into subsequent World Cup matches.
While dropping all three points against the Ghanaians, the match was a game-changer for one of their forwards – Cho Gue-sung.
Cho Gue-sung suddenly rose from a relatively unknown and anonymous figure in the squad to a celebrated star and idol.
After scoring twice to bag his first World Cup brace, Cho Gue-sung turned fans’ favorite, with many fawning over his good looks and goal-scoring talent.
Apart from his sudden idol status among Asian football fans, the 24-year-old went from just 20,000 Instagram followers to 1.6million and has been forced to turn his phone off due to all the attention he has been getting.
The obsession is so great that a clip of Cho just sitting on the bench has racked up more than 7.3million views on social media.
He had to get some rest,’ journalist Seo Jung-hwan told fellow reporters, adding, ‘His phone was going all night. It was keeping him awake. He was trying to concentrate on football and, all the time, the messages were coming.’
It marks a meteoric rise for a man who described himself as ‘insignificant’, with almost no information about his private life before the great performance against Ghana.
Born in 1998 in the city of Ansan, site Lifestyle Asia reports that both of Cho’s parents are athletes but declines to name them or give any more information.
He picked up football when he was a boy and played in the youth academy in South Korea as a defensive midfielder.
Cho Gue-sung stuck with the position through his time at Gwangju University where he was told he couldn’t change position.
In 2017, he changed from a defensive midfielder to a striker as advised by his coach.
Two years later he went pro for Anyang, the same team where he played as a youth, and was the third top goal scorer in K League 2 by the end of his first season.
Over the summer, he transferred to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors that play in K League 1, the top tier of Korean football, where he struggled for form.
As is mandatory for all South Koreans, Cho Gue-sung went into the military for mandatory service in 2021 and spent his time there playing for Gimcheon Sangmu – the team of the South Korean Armed Forces.
That seemed to provide the boost Cho needed, and when he re-joined Jeonbuk this year he emerged as K League 1’s top scorer and helped his team win the country’s FA Cup title.
He was first called up to the Korean national team in 2021 and got his first cap playing in a world cup qualifier against Lebanon in September that year.
After a fantastic season with Jeonbuk, Cho e-sung was named in the South Korean squad for the world cup and was brought on as a substitute in their game against Ghana.
The 6ft 2inch forward scored two quick-fire headers to bring his team back level from 2-0 down, before South Korean hearts were broken by a Muhammed Kudus strike just seven minutes later.
The hashtag ChoGuesung on TikTok, an increasingly significant driver of popularity even in the sporting world, has 193m views.
Outstripping national hero Son Heung-min, Cho now appears to be the darling of the South Korean general public.
‘Sisters with one hand on the heart, the 9th of korea: Cho Gue-sung,’ one strong admirer wrote on social media.
Another implored the footballer to marry them. While another captioned a video of the player with ‘the man who made everyone fall in love with himself’.
A seemingly innocuous clip of the forward sitting on the bench for his club side, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, has gained over seven million views. The part where the forward rubs his cheek appears to have drawn particular attention.