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Football goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae to retire: agency

All Headlines 16:42 December 11, 2012

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korean goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae, an instrumental player in the country's historic run to the semifinals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, has decided to retire, his Seoul-based agency said Tuesday.

Moro Sports Marketing Company said the 39-year-old netminder will hang up his gloves for good after a 17-year career.

"He has been thinking long and hard about whether to extend his career or to call it quits," the agency said. "In the end, he decided he wanted to leave with his legacy intact."

Lee will hold a press conference in Seoul on Monday to discuss his future plans in detail, the agency added.

Lee played for Chunnam Dragons in the K-League, the first division South Korean league, and allowed 38 goals in 33 games as the team finished 11th among 16 teams. He had been playing for Suwon Samsung Bluewings since his K-League debut in 1996 before joining the Dragons in 2011.

Lee enjoyed two solid seasons with Chunnam -- he let in 29 goals in 34 matches in 2011 -- but the Dragons told him last week they would not re-sign him for 2013 as they begin a rebuilding process.

According to the agency, Lee began mulling retirement when Jung Hae-seong, Chunnam's head coach, resigned in August to take the fall for the team's poor record. Jung was an assistant coach for South Korea at three of the four FIFA World Cups in which Lee played.

Lee was a key player in South Korea's march to the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. In South Korea's quarterfinal match against Spain, Lee denied Spain's fourth kicker, Joaquin, in the penalty shootout to help the home team win 5-3.

Lee has played 132 international games, the second most ever for a South Korean player.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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