Bum-Kun Cha or Cha Bum-Kun is a former South Korean football player and football manager. The 63-year-old is widely considered to be the best South Korean footballer of all time and has drawn rich praise from footballing heavyweights such as Sir Alex Ferguson and German midfielder Lothar Matthaus.
He made his name in German football where he was affectionately nicknamed Tscha Bum thanks to his ability to hit the ball like a rocket. It was the Kicker magazine in Germany that first named him so and it stuck for the rest of his career in Germany.
Cha was born in the Gyeonggi province of South Korea in Hwaseong. He went on to become the youngest footballer to be capped by the Korean national team at senior level. After attaining great heights in Koren football, Cha aspired to try his luck in the German Bundesliga. A move to FC Darmstadt soon came along and Cha went on to stamp his class in the competition.
He had promised to use his knowledge of German and European football to help his country advance in the sport and Cha stayed true to his word as he delved into coaching soon after retiring from professional football. Cha coached the national team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France before taking the helms at K League sides Ulsan Hyndai and Suwon Samsung Bluewings.
He first rose to prominence as a school boy in his time with the Kyungshin High School FC in 1970. Incidentally, it was also the year that he was called up to the Korean under 20 international side. After completing his graduation at Korea University in 1976, Cha started his senior career with Seoul Trust Bank FC.
However, Cha was forced to serve in the South Koran Air Force FC as a part of his military service. His first taste of German football came with SV Darmstadt 98 for whom he signed in December 1978. Barely a month into his stint with the side, Cha had to come back to Korea to finish his military service.
Upon completing his compulsory military service, Cha was snapped up by Eintracht Frankfurt in July 1979. He had an immediate impact on the league as he scored in three consecutive matches. His speed and technical ability made him a difficult opponent to play against.
The team went on to win the UEFA Cup in Cha’s first season at the club and Cha collected the man-of-the-match award in the final. His impact compelled Eintracht to make Cha the third highest paid footballer in Germany at the time. Cha would win the German Cup with Eintracht in 1981, scoring in the final.
After completing four seasons in Frankfurt for whom he scored 46 times in 122 appearances, Cha moved to Bayer Leverkusen in 1983. He would go on to score 52 goals in 185 appearances for Bayer and helped them win their first major tournament as Leverkusen lifted the UEFA Cup in 1988. Cha scored the all-important equalizer against Espanyol in the final to make it 3-3 before his team won the trophy on penalties.