Gwangju World Cup Stadium was purpose built for the 2002 World Cup which South Korea co-hosted Japan. Capable of seating 40,245 supporters, it was renamed Guus Hiddink Stadium after he led to the semi-finals of the tournament. It is currently home to local team Gwangju FC.
Stadium Guide by Football Tripper
Gwangju World Cup Stadium was as the name suggests, constructed to host matches of the FIFA World Cup which was co-hosted by Korea and Japan in 2002. Selected as one of 10 South Korean venues, and one of 20 venues in total when factoring in Japan’s, Gwangju Stadium would have perhaps hosted more matches during the tournament if it weren’t for the large total number of grounds used.
Completed in September 2001 and designed by the Space Group of Korea, the venue hosted three matches in total including two group games and one quarter final. The first group match was held on the 2nd of June between Spain and Slovenia (3-1) of Group B, and the second match featured China against Costa Rica (0-2) in Group C.
The most intriguing and memorable match Gwangju World Cup Stadium hosted was the quarter final game between Spain and South Korea. After defeating Italy via a golden-goal in extra time in the first knock-out match, the team were unable to break down Spain after extra time. The match went to penalty’s and the plucky South Koreans defeated Spain 5-3 on penalties to progress to the semi-finals.
Deemed an incredible achievement by the host-nation who had never previously won a match at the World Cup, the semi-final marked South Korea’s greatest ever performance at a football tournament. Dutch coach Guus Hiddink was deemed a national hero, and became the first person ever to be granted honorary South Korean Citizenship.
Gwanju World Cup Stadium was renamed to the Guus Hiddink Stadium shortly after the competition when he returned to PSV Eindhoven, and the ground today is the home of Gwangju FC who formed in 2010.