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Korean football's oldest player retires at 46

Goalkeeper Kim Byung-ji, the oldest player ever in South Korean professional football, will finally hang up his boots.

Kim, 46, announced his retirement via Facebook on Tuesday, saying he wants to put his 35-year playing career into his memory bank.

"I was really a happy player," Kim wrote. "Yes! I'm retiring. This is for another start (of my life)."

Kim has been searching for a club after his contract with the Jeonnam Dragons in the top-flight K League Classic ended last year.

He failed to sign with anyone in the first half and also couldn't land a contract during the second half.

Kim played a league-record 706 matches in the K League and became the oldest player ever in league history on Nov. 22, 2014, at 44 years, seven months and 14 days.

Kim played his last K League match on Sept. 23 last year.

He also holds the league record for the most clean sheets with 228 and once played a record 153 consecutive matches without being substituted.

The veteran goalkeeper made his pro debut with Ulsan Hyundai FC in 1992 and went on to play for four different teams.

He played 61 matches for South Korea and conceded 72 goals. He represented the country at the 1998 and the 2002 FIFA World Cups.

"In my mind, I was already thinking of retirement from 2008 when I had surgery for my lower back," he wrote. "I learned that whatever you do and whichever condition you are in, if you have passion and will, there's nothing you can't overcome."

Kim's retirement leaves Jeonnam defender Hyun Young-min as the only active player remaining from South Korea's 2002 World Cup squad that reached the semifinals.

(Yonhap)

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