Koo Ja-cheol

Koo Ja-cheol
Personal information
Full name Koo Ja-cheol
Date of birth (1989-02-27) 27 February 1989
Place of birth Nonsan, South Chungcheong, South Korea
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
FC Augsburg
Number 19
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2007–2010 Jeju United 70 (7)
2011–2014 VfL Wolfsburg 32 (0)
2012–2013FC Augsburg (loan) 36 (8)
2014–2015 Mainz 05 39 (6)
2015– FC Augsburg 35 (9)
National team
2007–2009 South Korea U20 16 (5)
2009–2012 South Korea U23 16 (5)
2008– South Korea 57 (18)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 27 August 2016.

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 November 2016
Koo Ja-cheol
Hangul 구자철
Hanja 具滋哲
Revised Romanization Gu Ja-cheol
McCune–Reischauer Ku Cha-ch'ŏl
Also spelled Gu Ja-chul or Ku Ja-chul
This is a Korean name; the family name is Koo.

Koo Ja-cheol (Hangul: 구자철; born 27 February 1989) is a South Korean footballer who plays as midfielder for Bundesliga club FC Augsburg and the former captain of South Korean football team.

Blessed with technique and vision, Koo "has an uncanny ability to find the back of the net, often displaying a knack to charge into the opposition penalty box unsighted."[1]


Early career

Koo started football at age ten when a nearby elementary school opened its football club. During his early youth career, he mostly played as a defender, often taking sweeper role. However, he wasn't particularly outstanding and the fact he suffered from anemia also hindered him from gaining attention. In 2006, as a member of Boin High School, Koo participated in the Baekrok High School Football Competition that is annually held in Jeju Island. Leading Boin High School to a runner-up place with an outstanding performance, he grabbed the attention of Jung Hae-seong, who was then the manager of Jeju United.

Jeju United

In 2007, Koo was selected by Jeju United in the K-League draft. He failed to make an impression in his first two years at Jeju due to numerous injuries. However, he slowly broke into the first team, mostly playing as a defensive midfielder. In January 2010, he was reportedly invited by Blackburn Rovers for a trial, but the move didn't happen. He spent a great season in 2010 at Jeju instead, driving his club to an unprecedented runner-up position. His contribution also enabled him to gain personal honors, as he received the 'FAN'tastic Player award and the Top Assist award and was included in the Best XI.

VfL Wolfsburg

On 30 January 2011, Koo Ja-cheol successfully moved to VfL Wolfsburg during the winter transfer window, signing a three-and-a-half year contract for an undisclosed fee.[2] On 12 February 2011, Koo made his VfL Wolfsburg debut against Hamburger SV, coming on as a substitute in the 64th minute in the 0–1 home defeat.[3]

Loan to Augsburg

On 31 January 2012, he moved on loan to the league rivals FC Augsburg.[4][5] During the loan period, he scored five goals in 15 appearances, and played a significant part in helping Augsburg escape relegation in their maiden season in the Bundesliga.[6]

In his second season at Augsburg, Koo was plagued by injuries but still helped the club survive relegation in the limited games he played in. In December 2012 he was involved in an on the field altercation with Bayern Munich's midfielder Franck Ribéry in a 2–0 2012–13 DFB-Pokal loss. After a disputed free kick he confronted Ribéry and touched his face, in response Ribéry slapped Koo.[7] Referee Thorsten Kinhöfer gave Koo a yellow card and sent off Ribéry. Bayern Munich director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge demanded that the ejection be overturned, while Bayern's coach Jupp Heynckes blamed both Koo and Ribéry, stating that although Koo had provoked Ribéry the latter should learn to not react under pressure.[8]

Mainz 05

On 18 January 2014, it was announced that Koo penned a four-and-a-half year deal with Mainz 05.[9] He scored his first goal for Mainz in a 2–0 victory over SC Freiburg.


On 31 August 2015, Koo re-joined Augsburg. On 6 March 2016, he scored Augsburg's first hat-trick in the Bundesliga, against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.[10]

International career

Koo played a central role in helping South Korea finish third in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, with five goals and three assists over the tournament, finishing as the tournament's top scorer.[11]

During the 2012 London Olympics, Koo played as a central midfielder in the Korean national team. He appeared in every game in the tournament, and scored the second goal during the second half of the bronze medal match against Japan, securing a 2–0 victory for Korea. The South Korean team won the bronze medal in football for the first time in its Olympics history and in doing so, became the second Asian team in the Olympics men's football to reach the semi-finals.[12]

He was named captain of the national team ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and scored in a 4–2 defeat to Algeria in the team's second group match.[13] He was selected for the 2015 Asian Cup and played a decisive role in South Korea's opening match, a 1–0 victory over Oman, and was named man of the match.[14] In the match against Australia, Ja-cheol suffered an injury and missed the remainder of the tournament.

Club career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Korea Republic League FA Cup League Cup AFC Total
Jeju United FC 2007 K-League 101106000171
2008 90005000140
2009 221216100303
2010 295401000345
Total 7077118100959
Country Korea Republic 7077118100959
Germany League DFB-Pokal DFB Ligapokal UEFA Total
Wolfsburg 2010–11 Fußball-Bundesliga 100000000100
2011–12 120000000120
2013–14 100200000120
Total 320200000340
Augsburg 2011–12 Fußball-Bundesliga 155000000155
2012–13 213100000223
2015–16 278100080368
2016–17 101210000122
Total 73174100808518
Mainz 05 2013–14 Fußball-Bundesliga 141000000141
2014–15 235110021267
2015–16 2000000020
Total 396110021428
Country Germany 1362352--10115126
Total 2143014318110125635

International goals

Scores and results list South Korea's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 9 January 2010 Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa  Zambia 2–4 2–4 Friendly
2 7 February 2010 National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan  Hong Kong 2–0 5–0 2010 EAFF Championship
3 10 January 2011 Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha, Qatar  Bahrain 1–0 2–1 2011 AFC Asian Cup
4 2–0
5 14 January 2011 Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha, Qatar  Australia 1–0 1–1 2011 AFC Asian Cup
6 18 January 2011 Thani bin Jassim Stadium, Doha, Qatar  India 2–0 4–1 2011 AFC Asian Cup
7 28 January 2011 Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha, Qatar  Uzbekistan 1–0 3–2 2011 AFC Asian Cup
8 7 June 2011 Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju, South Korea  Ghana 2–1 2–1 Friendly
9 15 November 2011 Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium, Beirut, Lebanon  Lebanon 1–1 1–2 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification
10 12 June 2012 Goyang Sports Complex, Goyang, South Korea  Lebanon 3–0 3–0 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification
11 6 September 2013 Sungeui Arena Park, Incheon, South Korea  Haiti 2–1 4–1 Friendly
12 15 October 2013 Cheonan Baekseok Stadium, Cheonan, South Korea  Mali 1–1 3–1 Friendly
13 22 June 2014 Estádio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil  Algeria 2–4 2–4 2014 FIFA World Cup
14 27 March 2015 Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, South Korea  Uzbekistan 1–0 1–1 Friendly
15 8 October 2015 Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium, Kuwait City, Kuwait  Kuwait 1–0 1–0 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification
16 12 November 2015 Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, South Korea  Myanmar 2–0 4–0 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification
17 1 September 2016 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea  China PR 3–0 3–2 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification
18 15 November 2016 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea  Uzbekistan 2–1 2–1 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification



Jeju United


South Korea


Personal life

Koo likes to go shopping in his spare time in Germany.[15] He is currently the honorary ambassador for The Republic of Korea Air Force.[16] Koo is also a close friend with his teammate Ki Sung-yueng, and they like to display their friendly, humorous conversations on Twitter.[17] Ki revealed on the Korean talk show Healing Camp, Aren't You Happy that Koo has a nickname called "Koogle Georim" or 구글거림 in Korean because of his sometimes goofy way of talking.[18] On 24 June 2013, Koo married a Jeju woman three years older than him at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel.[19][20]


  1. "Marco Fabian, Isco and the young stars who could emerge at the 2012 Olympics". Goal.com. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  2. "구자철, VfL 볼프스부르크 이적" (in Korean). jeju-utd.com. 31 January 2011.
  3. "Neustart missglückt: 0:1-Heimniederlage gegen den HSV" (in German). vfl-wolfsburg.de. 12 February 2011.
  4. "FCA verpflichtet Koo Ja-Cheol" (in German). FC Augsburg.de. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  5. "Augsburg sign Koo Ja-Cheol". Bundesliga.de. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  6. "Augsburg Celebrate Survival". Sporting Life. 6 May 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  7. "Slap Fight! Franck Ribery sent off for cuffing Koo Ja-Cheol (Augsburg v Bayern)". 101 Great Goals.com. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  8. "Rummenigge calls for Ribery red card justice". ESPN.com. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  9. "Ja-Cheol Koo wird Mainzer" (in German). Mainz05.de. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  10. "South Korean Koo Scores Augsburg's First Bundesliga Hat-Trick". The Global Herald. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  11. "Wolfburg Sign Jeju United's Koo Ja Cheol After Impressive Asian Cup". goal.com. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  12. Teale, Chris (10 August 2012). "South Korea 2–0 Japan: Park & Koo strikes secure bronze". goal.com. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  13. "South Korea 2–4 Algeria". BBC. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  14. "South Korea aim to bank on former skipper Koo Ja-cheol to win first Asian Cup title in 55 years". Daily News and Analysis. Reuters. 10 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  15. 구자철은 왜 독일에서 여자 취급받았나 (in Korean). Sportal Korea. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  16. 구자철, 공군 홍보대사 위촉 (in Korean). citydaily. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  17. "구자철아닙니다". twitter.com. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  18. 기성용, "구자철 별명은 구글거림" 폭로 (in Korean). asiae.co.kr. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  19. 구자철 결혼 발표...6월22일 연상녀와 '웨딩마치' (in Korean). etoday.co.kr. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  20. "Footballer Koo Ja-cheol is married". Dong A.com. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Kwak Tae-hwi
South Korea captain
Succeeded by
Ki Sung-yueng
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