Football midfielder Ha Dae-sung, outgoing captain of South Korean club FC Seoul, said Wednesday he hopes to do his old league proud in his new venture.
Ha, 28, recently signed with Beijing Guoan in the Chinese Super League. At his farewell news conference at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Ha said he is looking forward to a new chapter in his career.
“I've played against Chinese clubs many times at the AFC Champions League,” Ha said of the annual club competition in Asia.
“Their league has improved with the influx of some talented players (from overseas) and I think it was worth a shot to play there.”
Ha made his K League Classic debut with Ulsan Hyundai in 2004 and joined FC Seoul in 2010. As a pillar in midfield, Ha helped FC Seoul win the 2010 and 2012 league titles, and finish runner-up at the 2013 AFC Champions League. He’d been the team's captain the past two seasons.
He said he hopes to return to FC Seoul one day and retire here.
“I hope to show people in China how great the K League Classic is,” he said. “I’d like to thank our fans for their support and I will try to make a triumphant return later.”
He acknowledged that money factored in his decision to leave for China but rejected the notion that he will be moving to a generally inferior league.
“Some people have asked me if it would truly be a challenge for me because I am joining weaker competition,” Ha said. “But the quality of play in China has improved a great deal and I've heard a lot about enthusiastic fans over there.”
Ha said he hopes to help Beijing Guoan win both the Chinese Super League and the AFC Champions League. The club finished a distant third last season, and FC Seoul eliminated Beijing in the round of 16 at last year’s AFC Champions League.
On a personal level, Ha said he'd like to make the national team for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer.
“If I had remained in Seoul, I think my preparation would have been easier,” Ha said. “That’s why going to China is a big risk for me. But if I can keep playing well, I should realize my dream of playing in the World Cup.”
Ha has played in recent friendly matches for South Korea and appears to have a shot at making the final roster.
Ha is the second high-profile FC Seoul player to leave South Korea this offseason. Last month, Montenegrin striker Dejan Damjanovic, the three-time reigning scoring champ here, joined Jiangsu Sainty, also in the Chinese Super League. (Yonhap News)