South Korean World Cup legend Ahn Jung-Hwan bids emotional farewell after announcing his retirement

The 2002 World Cup hero was teary-eyed and emotional as he confirmed his retirement from the game. He also said a tribute match with the national team wasn't appropriate
South Korea's 2002 World Cup hero Ahn Jung-Hwan has officially confirmed his retirement from football after an exceptional 14-year career.

The 36-year-old, who was capped 71 times for his country, bid farewell to football on Tuesday at  a press conference in Seoul.

The emotional former Perugia, MSV Duisburg and FC Metz attacker said the 2002 World Cup where he scored a dramatic extra-time winner against Italy was the highlight of his career.

Ahn, who also played in Japan and China, said: "I've experienced many different football cultures in different countries, and those were really lucky times of my life.

"I reached the World Cup three times, and I enjoyed everything a football player could have enjoyed."

Ahn admitted he felt in good enough physical condition to play on and had been linked with K-League club Seongnam Ilhwa but said he wanted to prioritise his family after many years in the game.

"Over my 14-year career, my family has made a lot of sacrifices. I want to spend more time with them and just be a normal dad," he said.

"I have been working hard on my own and I felt I could still play. But on the other hand, I felt pressure that I had to live up to people's expectations. I wanted to come back to the K-League and it's been a very difficult month."

There had been talk in South Korea that the man known as 'The Lord of the Ring' could make a cameo in next month's friendly against Uzbekistan, however Ahn played down such speculation claiming the match was crucial preparation for the February 29 World Cup qualifier against Kuwait.

"This is a critical moment for Korean football, and I just felt it would be detrimental to the development of our football if I played before an important game," Ahn said.

"I don't think it's appropriate to put my personal matters ahead of the World Cup."

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