2002 WCup veteran Ahn Jung-hwan retires

South Korea’s 2002 World Cup hero Ahn Jung-hwan has officially

retired from football.

The 36-year-old striker became famous around the world for

scoring the golden goal that eliminated Italy in the second round

of the World Cup hosted jointly by Japan and South Korea.

South Korea went on to the semifinals, the best ever performance

from an Asian team at a World Cup.

After a varied career in the K-league, Italy, Japan, France,

Germany and China, an emotional Ahn told a media conference

Tuesday, broadcast live on national television, that he had thought

long and hard about retirement.

”After 14 years, I decided to quit and I’m looking forward for

the challenge of a new life,” said Ahn, who has spent the last

three seasons with Chinese side Dalian. ”I have many happy

memories from playing with my teammates at the 2002 World Cup, but

while my mind is in 2002, my body is in 2012.”

Ahn was playing for Italian team Perugia in 2002 when he was

famously fired by the president of the Serie A club after scoring

the goal that eliminated Italy at the World Cup, although Perugia

quickly claimed that there had been a misunderstanding.

The 1999 K-League Most Valuable Player then had three successful

years in Japan before lackluster spells in France with Metz and

Duisberg in Germany in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

”I was honored to represent my country at three World Cups and

I enjoyed every moment,” said Ahn who also scored the winning goal

in South Korea’s 2006 World Cup opener against Togo in Frankfurt,

the nation’s first ever victory in the tournament on foreign

soil.

He also appeared in South Africa as the team reached the second

round, making the last of his 67 international appearances.

Ahn, who returned to South Korea for a second K-League spell

with the Suwon Bluewings and his original club Busan I’Park, said

he wanted to work with young players in the future for the

development of Korean football.