South Korea star Ahn makes emotional exit

South Korean striker and 2002 World Cup star Ahn Jung-hwan announced his retirement from professional football at a tearful news conference on Tuesday.

"No longer as a football player but as a head of a family and as a fan of football, I will cheer on the Korean football. I want to rest," an emotional Ahn told reporters.

The 36-year-old became a household name at the 2002 finals when his extra-time header knocked Italy out in the round of 16 as the co-hosts advanced all the way to the semi-finals, where they were eventually knocked out by Germany.

Ahn was on loan at Serie A side Perugia at the time and his contract was cancelled by the club following his goal with their owner Luciano Gaucci stating: "I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian football."

Ahn began his professional career in 1998 with Busan before enjoying spells in Italy, Germany, France, Japan and China. He represented South Korea at three World Cups, playing an active role in 2002 and 2006 but was an unused substitute in 2010.

As well as his goal against Italy, Ahn scored against the United States in a 2002 group match and added a third World Cup goal against Togo at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

In Korea, Ahn was given the nickname 'Lord of the Ring' as part of his goal celebration involved the player kissing his wedding ring as a tribute to his wife, former Miss Korea Lee Hye-won.


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