Seoul/Leverkusen – Another gruelling 90-minute workout in 30-degree heat and 90-per-cent humidity capped a tiring, but extremely rewarding five-day stint in South Korea for Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Positive impressions all round
Die Werkself returned from their trip to the Far East with extremely positive impressions of the Korean capital, having left behind indelible memories for their hosts thanks to their endearing conduct both on and off the pitch.
"The players made an outstanding impression in every respect," said Leverkusen's general manager Michael Schade prior to boarding a flight back from Asia on Friday afternoon. "We were able to fulfil all of our objectives and gave a very good account of ourselves and the Bundesliga."
Apart from several arduous training sessions and a 2-0 friendly win over FC Seoul, Roger Schmidt's charges also attended a number of marketing and sponsorship appointments, including a kickabout with local children on the seventh floor of a tower block in the centre of Seoul. The look of glee on the kids' faces as they went toe-to-toe with the likes of Stefan Kießling, Heung-Min Son, Simon Rolfes and Seung-Woo Ryu was a joy to behold for the Leverkusen players, but the feeling was evidently mutual.
Satisfying the kids
"We really loved training with the kids," said club captain Rolfes. "Some of them showed some great quality and it's always nice to make children happy." Following the kickabout, Rolfes and his team-mates spent several minutes signing autographs and having their pictures taken with the adoring youngsters.
After a couple of hours' rest, Son, who was brought up in Seoul and knows his way around his former home, invited his colleagues out for an evening meal, bringing die Werkself's South Korean journey to a fitting end.
Short rest, then back to business
Safely back in Germany, the Leverkusen players were given the weekend off to recover from jetlag and the intense South Korean heat. As of this coming week, though, work will begin in earnest for the 2014/15 season, starting with a friendly against Wuppertaler SV and culminating in a trip to England to face Premier League side Southampton FC.
The encounter with the Saints comes a day after Leverkusen discover their opponents in the UEFA Champions League play-off, the draw for which takes place in Nyon on 8 August and is eagerly anticipated by all at the BayArena.