Up next in our series of Bolton legends who Bolton would give anything to see return to the Reebok, is South Korea’s finest, Chung-Yong Lee.
With former Bolton manager Neil Lennon getting himself a new job last week, it got us thinking about the impact he had on the Bolton team in his brief spell with the Trotters.
Lennon was a brilliant motivator when he first arrived and a number of players really came out of their shells under him. One player springs to mind above the rest however, Korean superstar Chung-Yong Lee.
Lee offered a cool head on the ball, was brilliant at picking out passes and could turn a defender inside out. Oh how Bolton could do with someone of his quality now.
Chung-Yong Lee’s Bolton career
Chungy signed for Bolton boss Gary Megson in 2009 and was an instant fit. He played 76 games in his first two seasons as a Bolton player, scoring nine goals in the process.
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In 2011, it was Lee’s last minute winner that sent the Trotters through to their first FA Cup semi final in over 10 years.
However, before the start of the 2011/12 season, Chungy suffered a horrendous injury. In a friendly against Newport County, Chung-Yong Lee suffered a broken leg, that led to him missing nine months of action.
It just so happens that season saw Bolton relegated to the Championship. You have to wonder if Chungy stayed fit, could Bolton have avoided relegation?
After returning from injury, Chungy didn’t really recapture his earlier form. While he was a regular in the team, he rarely made the impact he could have done.
Under Megson, Owen Coyle and Dougie Freedman, Chungy was often played out wide. However, when Neil Lennon came in, that all changed.
He moved Lee to a more central role where he could influence the game more. And oh boy did it pay off.
The best example of this would be the local derby against Wigan in November 2014. Chungy absolutely ran riot. His accurate, incisive passing and silky smooth skills on the ball meant he totally bossed the game, particularly in the second half.
The biggest mistake of Neil Lennon’s spell at Bolton was letting Chung-Yong Lee leave for Premier League Crystal Palace.
Just as Chungy was starting to really shine and show off his true talents, he was gone. Following January 2015, Bolton began to struggle again without the dynamic Korean in the side.
Chung-Yong Lee’s career after Bolton
Lee signed for Crystal Palace in January 2015.
In three and a half years at the Eagles, Chungy only played a measly 50 times. He averaged one appearance a month in the time he spent at the London club.
Chungy did play at the Macron again, albeit for Palace in an FA Cup Third Round tie. That fixture also saw a return for ex-Bolton boss Sam Allardyce. Chungy impressed but the Premier League side required a replay to topple League One Bolton.
In the summer of 2018, Lee was forced to leave England as a result of work permit issues, owing to South Korea’s performance at the World Cup.
In September 2018, Lee signed for second-tier German side, VfL Bochum.
Unlike his time at Palace, Chungy has been given regular game time at his new club so far. He’s played 15 times in the 2.Budesliga, notching four assists so far.
It’s a shame the Lee’s career in England fizzled out after his move to Palace.
Who knows where Bolton would be today if they had kept hold of the immensely talented and popular Korean.