Park bows out from national football team

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Park bows out from national football team


Park at press conference. [YONHAP]

National team captain Park Ji-sung announced his retirement from international football at a press conference in Seoul yesterday, making final a decision that was expected for some time now.

Park, who made his debut with the national team on April 5, 2000, against Laos, ended his international career after his 100th international game in the 2011 Asian Cup semifinals against Japan, becoming only the eighth Korean player to reach the 100-game milestone. Park also played an integral role in three World Cup tournaments. Park was part of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup squad that made a surprise run to the final four and captained the 2010 World Cup team, advancing to the knockout stage on foreign soil for the first time.

At the end of the 2010 South Africa World Cup in June, Park alluded to retirement at the end of the 2011 Asian Cup. Park’s father also mentioned the 29-year-old Manchester United left winger’s repaired knee, which is prone to swelling after long flights, in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo leading up to the 2011 Asian Cup and said Park would retire at the end of the Asian Cup.

“This is the first time I have officially stated my intention to retire from the national team,” Park said at a press conference yesterday. “I feel honored to have competed on the national team for the past 11 years. There were many memorable moments and I feel honored to have lived out my childhood dreams.

“There are many young players who have made good progress,” he said. “They have proved themselves worthy as members of the national team. I need to step aside in order for such players to have increased opportunities. I felt that was the best decision for the national team.”

Since national team manager Cho Kwang-rae took charge of the squad last year, he has been busy infusing young talent in preparation for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Players like Koo Ja-cheol, Lee Yong-rae and Son Heung-min played significant roles at the 2011 Asian Cup with Koo topping the tourney in goals scored with five.

With veteran left fullback Lee Young-pyo also announcing his retirement from the team at the end of the Asian Cup, Cho will continue to seek out young talent.

Included in the 22-man roster, released yesterday, for the Feb. 9 friendly against Turkey in Trabzon are first-time selections: Nam Tae-hee of Valenciennes FC, Hong Cheol of the Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, and Yoon Suk-young of the Chunnam Dragons.

“I would have to say Son Heung-min and Kim Bo-kyung are suitable replacements for my position,” said Park when asked who he thought could replace him at left wing. “They have performed well.”

Park had two operations on his right knee in the past, and he missed the 2011 Asian Cup third-place match against Uzbekistan due to slight swelling in his knee. “If not for the injuries, I could have continued to play for the national team,” said Park.

He said at the press conference that he believed he had three to four years left in his professional career.

By Jason Kim []

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

박지성 ‘태극 유니폼 행복했습니다, 맨유 유니폼으로 보답하겠습니다’
11년 뛴 대표팀 은퇴 선언
“한국축구와 나를 위해 결정”
맨유서 3~4년 더 뛸 계획
후계자로 김보경·손흥민 꼽아

‘캡틴 박’이 태극 유니폼을 벗었다. 이제 ‘센트럴 파크’만 남았다.

축구대표팀 주장 박지성(30·맨체스터 유나이티드)은 31일 오전 서울 종로구 신문로 축구회관 5층 대회의실에서 기자회견을 열고 “오늘로 대표팀에서 은퇴했음을 밝힌다. 국가를 대표해 축구 선수로 살아온 건 무한한 영광이며 자랑이었다”고 말했다. 축구팬들은 이제 맨유의 유니폼을 입은 박지성만 볼 수 있다. 그는 잉글랜드 무대에서 ‘센트럴 파크’로 통한다.

박지성은 “아직 이른 나이라고 생각하지만 한국 축구와 나를 위해서는 지금 결정을 내려야 한다고 생각했다. 내가 2002년 한·일 월드컵을 계기로 성장할 수 있었듯이 후배들에게 좋은 기회를 줘야 한다”고 은퇴 이유를 설명했다. 또 “부상(무릎)이 없었다면 체력적으로 힘들어도 대표선수 생활을 이어갔겠지만 지금 상황에서는 은퇴할 수밖에 없다”고 덧붙였다.

박지성은 PSV 에인트호번(네덜란드) 시절이었던 2003년 3월과 맨유에서 뛰던 2007년 4월 등 두 차례 수술받은 오른 무릎에 자주 물이 차올라 소속팀과 대표팀 생활을 병행할 수 없다고 판단했다는 것이다. 박지성은 자신의 뒤를 이을 선수로 김보경(22·세레소 오사카)과 손흥민(19·함부르크)을 꼽았다. …
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