Record South Korean scorer Lee Dong-gook bows out

SEOUL (AFP) – Veteran South Korean striker Lee Dong-gook, the record goalscorer in both the K-League and the Asian Champions League, blew the whistle on his 23-year career yesterday, announcing he will retire after the season finale this weekend.

Lee – who enjoyed stints with Werder Bremen in Germany’s Bundesliga and Middlesbrough in the English Premier League – will play his last K-League game for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors against Daegu on Sunday.

“I made the decision to retire as I believe it is not the end, but a start to something new,” the 41-year-old said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

“For the past 23 years, I have been loved and supported by so many people both on and off the field,” he added.

“I can take off my boots with more gratitude than regrets.”

Lee made his professional debut with Pohang Steelers in 1998 as a 19-year-old striker, scoring 11 goals in 24 matches.

He has accumulated a record 228 K-League goals in a career which includes seven domestic championships and one AFC Champions League title.

Lee is also the top scorer in the AFC Champions League with 37 goals in 75 appearances.

He was on the national team for the 1998 and 2010 World Cup and is tied for fourth among Taeguk Warriors’ scorers, with 33 international goals.