Lư Đình Tuấn is president of HCM City FC. Photo giaoduc.net.vn
HÀ NỘI - Lư Đình Tuấn was an excellent player of Saigon Port and the Việt Nam national team in the early 1990s, to the point where he was dubbed 'Maradona' Việt Nam.
While the 51-year-old never reached the heights El Diego did, he has become an effective assistant of Việt Nam’s head coach Park, a title he's held since early 2018, while also serving as president of HCM City FC, succeeding national team icon Lê Công Vinh.
Born in 1968 in Hà Nội, Tuấn moved to HCM City with his family in 1976. His father, Lư Hùng Phán, was a defender for a northern team and later moved to HCM City to work as a groundsman at Thống Nhất Stadium.
Tuấn’s house was close to the stadium, so he often went there to train and gradually became an extremely skilled player, following in his father's footsteps.
While Tuấn was one of the most gifted players in the city, he was often rejected by professional teams as he was only 1m58 tall.
Not disheartened, Tuấn was determined to train harder and it paid off, as his father good him a trial with Saigon Port coach Phạm Huỳnh Tam Lang.
Tuan's skill won over the coach and he was selected for a tournament in 1986, during which he netted against the Customs team. From that point on, he didn't look back and made the left midfielder position for Saigon Port his own.
He soon became a fan favourite and was dubbed “nhím” (porcupine), owing to his slight stature, speed and prickly nature on the pitch, according to a long-time fan of football in HCM City Trần Hữu Nghĩa.
With Tuấn’s contribution, Saigon Port triumphed in the national premier league in 1993, 1994 and 1997. He was called up to the national team to compete in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 1991, 1993 and 1995.
In May 1993, Việt Nam competed in the 1994 World Cup qualifying round in Asia and Tuấn scored his country's first goal in a World Cup qualifier in a 3-2 defeat to Singapore in Qatar.
Following his wonderful goal, Tuấn was called 'Maradona Việt Nam' by international media.
After finishing his career as a player, Tuấn began coaching. He graduated from the HCM City University of Physical Education and Sports in 2003 and two years later, he received the AFC level of professional coach and became a coach of the junior team of Saigon Port.
In 2007, Tuấn was head coach of Southern Steel-Saigon Port (now HCM City FC). Two years later, the side were relegated to V.League 2 and Tuấn moved to Cần Thơ to manage the team competing in the V.League 2.
In 2010, Tuấn returned to HCM City FC and helped the team win promotion to the V.League 1 2017.
In early 2018, Tuấn became an assistant for South Korean head coach Park to compete in the final round of AFC U23 Championship 2018 in China in which Việt Nam finished runners-up for the first time.
Lư Đình Tuấn (left) is assistant of coach Park Hang-seo. Photo nld.com.vn
“Tuấn is very responsible for his work. Thanks to his enthusiasm and skills, he has helped HCM City FC play well. Particularly, he combined and effectively supported head coach Chung Hae-soung, helping the club become the runners-up of the V.League 1 2019 and have two wins at the beginning of the V.League 1 this year," said the chairman of HCM City, Nguyễn Hữu Thắng.
Now Tuấn lives happily with his family in an apartment in HCM City. He has a 19-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, neither of whom intend to be athletes like their father.
"I'm busy all the time, so I thank my wife very much. She takes care of everything for our house is always warm,” said Tuấn. VNS