Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is confident an enlightening trip home has inspired Seol Ki-Hyeon to finally make his mark on the Barclays Premier League.
Seol was greeted as a national hero during last month’s pre-season tour to South Korea, where he is cherished as one of the players who helped the nation to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals.
But the 29-year-old forward has hardly set the Premier League alight during spells at Reading and Fulham and Hodgson hints that he is running out of time.
“Korea was a turning point for Seol. He went back there and realised what a big star he is in the country,” he said.
“I wasn’t surprised at how big he was in Korea. He’s a good looking boy who was a World Cup star in a football-mad country.
“But he’s very well perceived over there despite the fact he hasn’t made the grade in the Premiership yet.
“You can’t put that down to managers like Lawrie Sanchez and myself not giving him opportunities. At this level you don’t get many chances.
“If you get an opportunity and it doesn’t work out for you at a place where the competition for places is strong, you run the risk of not getting another chance.
“I think that now he’s coming to terms with that.”
Seol has shown encouraging signs since his conversion to striker during pre-season.
The unavailability of new signing Andrew Johnson, who is due to return from his thigh strain in three weeks, has forced Seol to move off the wing.
He struck the opener in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Hull and Hodgson is hopeful his partnership with Bobby Zamora will prove productive.
“Seol has done quite well recently. Since the Korea trip he seems to have taken on more responsibility at the club,” he said.
“He’s come to terms with his life here and his position. He’s worked very hard to convince me that we have some qualities we can use.
“In the games during pre-season he’s done well and scored. Physically he’s a fantastic specimen.
“We’re working hard on the understanding between him and Zamora and we’re happy to give him his chance.
“Great partnerships don’t get bred overnight. We’re aware that it will take time but we’re confident we can get the partnerships working.”
Fulham’s Premier League campaign resumes against Arsenal tomorrow and Hodgson is an unashamed admirer of Arsene Wenger’s work at the Emirates.
“I have great respect for Arsenal and I think most people in this country do,” he said.
“Arsene Wenger has done an outstanding job in terms of the quality of players he’s consistently bought and the team’s style of play.
“Whenever you’re meeting one of the big four you’re facing a stiff task.
“But at the same time it’s very motivating to play a team like Arsenal.
“I expect them to be fighting tooth and nail for the title this season.”