By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol hosted a dinner for the national football team on Thursday, saying he was deeply moved by their determined spirit that took them to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The dinner was held at the former presidential compound of Cheong Wa Dae, with the attendance of 21 players of the football team, head coach Paulo Bento, and other coaching and support staff.
The team returned from Qatar the previous day after reaching the round of 16 for the first time in 12 years.
"President Yoon said in his welcome speech that he was deeply moved by the way the players pushed until the end with an unrelenting spirit," the presidential office said in a press release.
"He said his heart was touched by the way many people stayed up or braved the subzero temperatures to cheer for the team with one spirit, and emphasized that the spirit of pushing toward a single goal, trusting in sweat and effort, and the spirit of not giving up until the end, united the players and our people as one," it added.
Team captain Son Heung-min and coach Bento expressed their thanks for inviting them to the dinner and for the nation's passionate cheering.
Son fastened the armband he wore during the games on Yoon's arm and together with midfielder Lee Kang-in, presented the president and first lady Kim Keon-hee with a football and uniform signed by the players.
The first lady, who was present at the dinner, thanked the team for repaying the nation's ardent support with their success at the games.