Ri Myong Guk is a goalkeeper well-known to football players and fans in the DPRK.
Ri was born in Phyongchon District, Pyongyang.
He has a family background closely related with football. His father played as a goalkeeper for a football club in the country since the early 1980s, and his uncle, elder brother and sister and their children have careers as football players.
So it was a common occurrence that whenever they got together they talked about football.
It was 28 years ago that he began playing football as a nine-year-old, and he played for the Pyongyang Municipal Sports Club as a midfield player.
One day he happened to stand in front of the goal, instead of a keeper.
Tall height, precise judgement and quick positioning, excellent reflexes in handling balls and other “in-born” talents displayed by Ri captured the attention of the coach, who recommended he should change over to a goalkeeper. It marked a new turn in Ri’s career.
Victory or defeat in a football match depends on all eleven players on the pitch, and yet, for the majority of 70 percent, on the role of a goalkeeper.
Ri set it as his own standard to block the attempts at goal without falling down in any position, and trained hard to improve his reflex actions and acquire prompt and accurate decision-making ability based on prediction of ball tracks.
He also made persevering efforts to get full understanding of individuality and forte of his colleagues as well as technical features of foreign football stars in order to perfect his qualifications as a goalkeeper.
Thanks to his efforts, Ri proved himself to be a fine goalkeeper, always taking favourable positions in the seesaw conditions of the matches and recording timely saves.
He began to earn his international fame since he played for the national team. In the Asian qualifying preliminaries for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa he did not concede even one goal to opponents for 625 minutes, thus breaking the record of an Italian goalkeeper who had not allowed a goal for 518 minutes.
He continued his career until he was well over thirty.
His coach said: Wholeheartedness and enthusiasm are Ri’s good qualities. He never refused to play a match, even though he suffered injuries or was in poor health condition.
Ri won best goalkeeper prizes on two occasions in international football tournament.
After 16 years of playing as a goalkeeper with the national football team, he retired last year and became a coach of the Pyongyang Sports Club.
He is dedicating himself to training excellent goalkeepers, so that he will live up to expectations of professionals and fans that they would see another Ri Myong Guk on the pitch.