Park Ji-sung retires from international football

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Seoul, Jan 31 (AP) Manchester United midfielder ParkJi-sung of South Korea has formally announced his retirementfrom international football.

The South Korea captain, who won his 100th cap in lastweek''s Asian Cup semifinal loss to Japan at Doha, said todaythat chronic knee injuries have forced him to retire and makeway for younger teammates.

Park, 29, says he expects to play club football foranother three to four years.

"It was a great honor and point of pride to play for thenational football team," Park told a packed news conference inSeoul.

"If there were no injuries, I could have continued mynational team career as physically difficult as it is," hesaid.

"However, I have no choice but to retire under thecurrent situation. Above all, I would like to make way forteammates who have been making remarkable progress."

Park singled out Son Heung-min of Hamburg SV and KimBo-kyung of Cerezo Osaka as promising players who can fill thegap.

Park, one of Asia''s most successful football players,became the first South Korean to play in a Champions Leaguefinal when Manchester United lost to Barcelona. He has alsowon three Premier League titles and three League Cups with theEnglish club.

Park was a key member of the South Korean national squadthat advanced to the World Cup semifinals in 2002 on home soil-- the best performance by an Asian team in football''s premierevent. He went on to play in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

"The happiest moment in my life was when I heard I wasselected as a member of the national team," he recalled.

"The 2002 World Cup was also really a happy moment."

Asked about when he expected to quit football entirely,Park said: "I haven''t decided what year I''ll quit. I think Ican play at least three to four more years." (AP) CM

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