South Korean veteran Ahn Jung-Hwan, hero of 2002 World Cup, announces retirement at 36

The announcement through Ahn's agency comes after 14 years of high-profile play in both Asia and Europe, including his unforgettable goal against Italy at the 2002 tournament
Former South Korea international Ahn Jung-Hwan's agency announced on Friday that he will retire next week, bringing a storied 14-year career, that included 67 international caps, to a close.

Ahn began his career at Busan Daewoo Royals, racking up 19 goals in 41 appearances and quickly becoming a fan favorite within Korea for both his techniques and his good looks. After being crowned K-League MVP in 1999, he was loaned to Serie A's Perugia from Busan Icons.

However, his time in Italy was cut short following his thrilling performance for South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. After scoring to give the Taeguk Warriors a 1-1 draw against the United States in the group stage, Ahn scored the winning goal against Italy to upset the European veterans and advance the hosts to the quarterfinals.

Following that goal, the attacker's contract was unceremoniously cancelled by then-owner Luciano Gaucci, who stated at the time, "I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian football."

Though Gaucci would eventually take back his comments and offer to buy the star's contract outright, Ahn rejected Perugia and chose instead to return to Asia, spending three years in J-League before again returning to Europe where he had stints at Metz and Duisburg.

He then returned to South Korea, playing two more seasons in K-League before spending three years with China's Dalian Shide. His last professional appearance was in a Chinese Super League defeat to Jiangsu Shuntian in October.