South Korea national soccer team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann was pleasantly surprised by the local reception for the Taegeuk Warriors after unexpectedly seeing his old jersey in China.
Klinsmann’s squad arrived in China via Shenzhen Bao’an Airport on the afternoon of Sept. 19 for the second Group C match of the 2026 North American Football Championship Asia Second Qualifying Round against China at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Center on Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. KST.
Despite the heated atmosphere ahead of the match, the Chinese fans’ cheers for the Korean national team were overwhelming. Fans packed the airport arrivals hall to the brim to see the Korean players play on Europe’s top stage. After waiting for the team for a long time at the airport, when the Korean players were seen at the arrival gate, they immediately chanted their names and were happy to welcome them to China. Klinsmann was all smiles and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Some fans wore Bayern Munich jerseys, where Kim Min-jae plays, and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) jerseys, where Lee Kang-in plays, and there was even a unique jersey. It was Klinsmann’s jersey from his playing days. A fan caught Klinsmann’s attention by wearing an old Bayern Munich jersey with Klinsmann’s name and his iconic number 18 on it.레모나토토
Klinsmann saw the jersey and remembered it fondly. “First of all, it was quite nice to see a lot of the old atmosphere today. It was already 30 years ago. Even when I was an active player, I received a lot of letters from Chinese fans, and I think it was a day that brought back memories of answering them,” he said, reminiscing about his past ties with China.
A world-class striker in his playing days, Klinsmann had a stellar career with the West German national team, winning the 1990 World Cup in Italy. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, the German (West German) national team was one of the most dominant teams in world soccer, and Klinsmann was one of the “Germanic Three” at the center of it all. He was the face of the German attack, so much so that his popularity was contagious, even in the relatively remote country of China, where he was a fan favorite.
While Klinsmann’s popularity in China was driven by his time in Germany, Chinese fans are now more interested in Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae, Lee Kang-in, and other players who are thriving on the European stage with the South Korean national team.
Fans chanted the three players’ names as they walked out of the gate, capturing them on camera, waving their jerseys and asking for autographs. The three players and the rest of the Taegeuk Warriors responded to the Chinese fans’ chants with a simple hand gesture as they moved out of the arrivals hall. Some fans even waited at the hotel where the athletes were staying to catch a glimpse of them.
Klinsmann was also impressed by the enthusiasm of the Chinese fans for the players, saying, “When I came to China and was welcomed, I realized how much people love Korean soccer. They seem to be having fun. It’s a new experience, and I’m quite happy,” he said, adding that he was both surprised and pleased.