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S. Korean football's career leading scorer announces retirement

(Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
(Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
Lee Dong-gook, the career scoring leader in South Korean club football, announced his retirement on Monday.

Lee's K League 1 club, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, said Lee, 41, will hold his retirement press conference on Thursday at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul. Lee will make his final appearance in the club's final match of the season on Sunday -- against Daegu FC at Jeonju.

The ageless wonder has scored 228 goals in his illustrious K League career, which includes seven championships, one Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League title, and four MVP awards -- all of them with Jeonbuk.

"I see my retirement as a new beginning, not an ending," he said in a statement released by Jeonbuk. "I've been quite happy as a football player. I'll never miss the time I've spent as a member of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors."

He made his K League debut with Pohang Steelers in 1998, a 19-year-old sensation who netted 11 goals in 24 matches to earn the Rookie of the Year Award.

Lee had a brief loan stint with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga in 2001 and spent two seasons with Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

He returned home to play for Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in 2008 and then joined Jeonbuk in 2009.

In his first season with Jeonbuk, Lee helped them to their first K League and also won his first scoring title with 21 goals in 29 matches.

Lee has scored 164 of his 228 goals with Jeonbuk, including four in 10 contests this season.

Lee also owns the scoring record in the AFC Champions League with 37 in 75 appearances.

Internationally, Lee represented South Korea at the 1998 and 2010 FIFA World Cup. He is in the Century Club with 105 caps and has scored 33 international goals, tied for fourth among all South Korean players.

Lee was famously left off the 2002 World Cup squad by then head coach Guus Hiddink. Then just before the 2006 World Cup roster was named, Lee suffered a devastating knee injury that sidelined him for six months and out of the big tournament. (Yonhap)