Japan’s Shimizu S-Pulse have signed marauding North Korea striker Jong Tae-Se in a bid to arrest their nose-diving form, the J-League club said on Thursday.
Jong, 31, dubbed “the People’s Wayne Rooney” after helping North Korea reach the 2010 World Cup finals, previously played for Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale and has had spells at German sides Cologne and Bochum in a colourful career.
“I would like to dedicate myself from here on to Shimizu S-Pulse,” Jong said after completing his move from South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings. “I will sacrifice myself and advance as one with the team. I want to carve the words ‘history’ and ‘honour’ into my heart and the hearts of the supporters.”
Jong, who was born in Nagoya to Korean parents and issued with a North Korean passport by the communist state’s de facto embassy in Japan, scored 46 goals in 112 games after joining Kawasaki in 2006.
He was less prolific in Germany but his goals and passion have made him one of North Korea’s most recognisable players, endearing himself to his country’s leaders in Pyongyang by shedding tears when the national anthem is played before games.
Jong played a key role in North Korea’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup — their first appearance in the finals in 44 years — although they lost all three games, including a painful 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
S-Pulse, former Asian Cup Winners Cup champions, finished this season’s J-League first stage bottom of the 18-team first division after winning just three of 17 games.