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Northern Ireland v South Korea: I miss words of advice from my old Celtic boss Neil Lennon, reveals Ki

Wise words: Neil Lennon had a big impact on Ki-Sung-yeung
Wise words: Neil Lennon had a big impact on Ki-Sung-yeung

By Steven Beacom

South Korean skipper Ki Sung-yeung has spoken about his relationship with Neil Lennon and revealed that he sometimes misses his former Celtic manager.

Swansea midfielder Ki is sure to be an influential figure for his side when they face Northern Ireland today at Windsor Park in a friendly that he believes will help South Korea prepare for the World Cup finals later this year.

Ki, with his all-action style, has become a favourite with the Swansea fans. Prior to that he was adored by the faithful at Celtic, where he spent three years between 2009 and 2012 having moved from FC Seoul.

Former Northern Ireland midfielder Lennon was the boss at Parkhead for most of Ki's time there.

Reflecting on that period in his life, the 29-year-old said yesterday: "I had a very good relationship with Neil Lennon and to be fair I struggled a little bit when he first became manager of Celtic.

"When I was a player he was a little bit angry and aggressive but he was a really good coach and he was a hero at Celtic. I miss him sometimes."

While the Northern Ireland fans will be well aware of Ki's quality, Tottenham winger Son Heung-min may be of even more interest to the Green and White Army given his sensational performances for the London side this season, the forward scoring seven goals in his last five appearances.

Ki believes his international team-mates deserves the same type of exposure as high profile Spurs duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

"Of course his performances this season have been amazing. Everyone knows he plays one of the best games and is very consistent in every game and he scores many goals for Spurs which is not easy," says Ki.

"From last season until now he has shown his quality as a top class player in the Premier League. I don't say this because he is Asian but I think he must get more credit.

"He scores very important goals for Spurs and the consistency is not easy for every player. Sometimes you get injured. Sometimes you get tired if you play for his kind of team but he keeps scoring goals and maintaining his performances, even for the national team."

South Korea's first group game in the World Cup finals in Russia will be against Sweden before they face Mexico and world champions Germany.

On today's match, coach Shin-Tae-yong said: "There are some similarities between Northern Ireland and Sweden. They are very solid defensively and their style of play is to be secure in defence and after winning the ball play counter-attack.

"We have seen other games for Northern Ireland and they play long balls up front and try and get in behind and we have to be prepared for that, especially for the second balls. We want to see how this works and who will cover and how we can counter a strong defence."

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