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Ex-S. Korea coach Guus Hiddink pays tribute to late World Cup hero Yoo Sang-chul

All News 17:22 June 09, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- Former South Korean men's national football head coach Guus Hiddink has sent his condolences to the family of the late football star Yoo Sang-chul, calling the ex-midfielder he coached at the 2002 FIFA World Cup "a true hero."

Ham Sang-heon, secretary-general of the Guus Hiddink Foundation, said Wednesday the Dutchman emailed his tribute message to the nonprofit organization, which was then printed on a card and delivered to Yoo's family Tuesday.

Yoo passed away Monday at age 49 after battling pancreatic cancer for about a year and a half.

A memorial altar for the late football star Yoo Sang-chul is set up at Asan Medical Center in Seoul on June 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

Yoo starred for Hiddink's upstart South Korean team at the 2002 World Cup. The midfielder scored the team's second goal in a 2-0 victory over Poland in Group D -- South Korea's very first World Cup win -- and was named to the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team after the end of the competition. Yoo played in every match, from the group stage and all the way to the third-place contest against Turkey.

In this file photo from June 22, 2002, Guus Hiddink (R), head coach of the South Korean men's national football team, taps midfielder Yoo Sang-chul on the shoulder during the quarterfinals match against Spain at the FIFA World Cup at Gwangju World Cup Stadium in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Ham said Hiddink was "devastated" to hear the news of Yoo's passing. In the letter presented to Yoo's surviving family, Hiddink wrote, "Nothing can be compared with your loss today."

"You were for me and for the team a big inspiration in the time I had the privilege to work with such tremendous character," Hiddink wrote. "You were a true hero to me and to your nation Korea. Now you leave us but the memories we shared together, your smile and joy will live among us."

This EPA file photo from March 8, 2016, shows then Chelsea head coach Guus Hiddink during a training session at the team's training complex in Cobham, southwest of London. (Yonhap)


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