Alexa

South Korean striker Lee to retire from K-League at age 41

South Korean striker Lee to retire from K-League at age 41

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Veteran striker Lee Dong-gook finally called time on his record-breaking career on Monday at the age of 41.

The Jeonbuk Motors forward announced via social media that he will retire after Sunday’s game against Daegu FC.

Lee is the K-League’s all-time leading scorer with 228 goals, and has also netted more than anyone else in the Asian Champions League, the continent’s top club competition, with 37 goals.

“I will always have the memories of fans who chanted my name and the moments of joy and glory that we shared," Lee, who has scored four goals in 10 appearances this season, said. “I am grateful for those who supported me on and off the pitch over the long period of 23 years. I was very happy as a player.”

Should league-leading Jeonbuk take a point on Sunday, it will give Lee his eighth domestic league championship with the club. He also won the 2016 Asian Champions League and was voted K-League MVP on four occasions.

The award of ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 1998 with Pohang Steelers signaled a significant start to a club career that would include short stints with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga and the English Premier League’s Middlesbrough before a return to Asia in 2008.

Lee appeared 105 times for his country, although despite playing at the 1998 World Cup, he was surprisingly left out of the roster for the 2002 tournament by coach Guus Hiddink. South Korea reached the semifinals that year in the World Cup it co-hosted with Japan.

Ahead of the 2006 World Cup, Lee had established himself as the country’s No. 1 striker but he was ruled out because of a serious knee injury. He had to wait until 2010 to return to the world stage.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports