The ‘Sun of Daegu’ will host a farewell match for legendary South Korean striker Lee Geun-ho (38) on Wednesday, marking the end of his 20-year professional career.
Daegu FC will play its final game of the season against Incheon United at DGB Daegu Bank Park at 2 p.m. on March 3. Daegu has been preparing the stage for legend Lee Geun-ho, the first retirement ceremony since the opening of DGB Daegu Bank Park (Daepak), for nearly two months since mid-October. It is meaningful for him to end his career in the Final A with Daegu fans in his home stadium. It is also significant that the 38-year-old Lee will play his final game against Incheon, the team he wore his first professional jersey for as a teenager. Tickets for the final home game were sold out a week before the game on April 26.
Lee, a striker who was touted as one of Korea’s future stars during his time at Incheon’s Bupyeong High School, bounced around the second team at Incheon, where he turned professional in 2004. He went scoreless in eight games in the 2005-2006 season. He moved to Daegu, where he soared with 10 goals and three assists in 2007 and 13 goals and six assists in 2008. His soccer career blossomed as a national striker. He played three seasons in the J-League with Jubilo Iwata (2009-2010) and Gamba Osaka (2010-2011). In 2012, he moved to K League Ulsan Hyundai ahead of his military enlistment, winning the Asian Champions League and being named the ‘sub-champion’ MVP. In 2013, he scored 15 goals and provided six assists in a resident commercial jersey, helping the club win the title and earn promotion to the top flight. In 2015, he won the first division title with Jeonbuk, and since then, he has been a fan favorite as a veteran and ace in every team he has played for, including Jeju and Gangwon.
In an interview with Sports Chosun in mid-October, Lee announced his intention to retire, saying, “It was a decision I made after much thought.” “My son was born earlier this year, and I was motivated to work harder. But on the other hand, I also thought that I might miss out on other parts of my life besides the happiness of soccer,” he said. “I love being a player, I love soccer, I love playing in front of the fans. I have the best care in terms of life, management, everything. But to take the next step, it’s time to move on and take on a different challenge,” he said of his retirement. “Thankfully, I haven’t looked bad so far and the team is in the top split. I decided to leave while the going was good. Many players are forced to retire because they missed the moment of choice, but if I could leave when I could choose, it would be now,” he smiled.
When he put on the Daegu jersey again in 2021, he had already made up his mind to retire from Daegu. “From the moment I came back to this team, I was determined to finish in Daegu. I want to finish my soccer story in Daegu, the team where I started my professional career. I think the time to leave is when everyone is sad.” When asked about his post-retirement plans, Lee said, “I want to get my A-level coaching license next year and open a soccer class in Daegu.” “I’m also looking into broadcasting if there are any offers. I’m also thinking about YouTube. Above all, I want to spend a lot of time with my family,” he said.
In the last match of the regular season against Suwon FC, his son Yuan Yi visited DaePak for the first time. He cried because of the unfamiliar atmosphere, but he was able to intuit his father’s game for the first time. Photo courtesy of Daegu FC.레모나토토 주소
A golden goal against Gwangju in the 2023 season. The 20-year-old junior pro Lee Geun-ho fought hard.
The entire game was set up to honor Lee Geun-ho, the “Sun of Daegu. “From noon, when the sun is at its highest in the sky, the DGB Daegu Bank Park outdoor plaza turns into a festive place,” the club announced. In the center of the outdoor plaza, a large photo wall of Lee Geun-ho against the backdrop of the setting sun, a number photo zone, and a character photo zone were set up so that fans could capture their last memories of Lee Geun-ho in photos and videos. Fans who participate in a table soccer match with the supporters will receive three Lee Geun-ho character stickers.
At the outdoor plaza booth, the first 10,000 ticket holders will receive a 2023 season key ring and season ticket holders will receive a holographic ticket of Lee Geun-ho. For paper tickets, a special design has been prepared with memories of Lee Geun-ho from the past and present smiling together.
Lee Geun-ho himself organized the gift out of his own pocket to express his gratitude to his fans for 20 years of unwavering love. Lee’s family will personally hand out the 2007 season key ring to the first 2023 fans.
At the stadium, fans dressed in Lee Geun-ho’s jersey will serve as player escorts for the final time. Before the game, the KFA and Daegu FC Angel Club will present Lee with a plaque of appreciation and a bouquet of flowers. In honor of Lee’s number 22, the entire crowd will cheer Lee’s farewell game with a standing ovation in the 22nd minute of the first half, and a card section and supporters’ banner performance will be held in the S section.
At halftime, there will be a Daepak Music Show, a video quiz show featuring Lee Geun-ho’s last song, and a lottery for advance ticket holders to win a TV from global electronics company Changhong (1), a refrigerator (1), and two T-way overseas tickets (Daegu-Da Nang).
After the final whistle, the field will be prepared exclusively for Lee Geun-ho. Lee’s official retirement ceremony will be held on a special podium in the center circle of the field, where the team, supporters, and family members will present a plaque of appreciation and a bouquet of flowers to the “jinpro” for his 20 years of hard work. Lee Geun-ho also makes a final greeting to his fans by declaring his official retirement.
Lee Geun-ho’s final send-off is also accompanied by 1500 fans. Daegu sold tickets for the 2023 Daegu FC season-ending ground opening (2200 won to 22,000 won) to the first 1500 fans through Ticketlink from 8 p.m. on the 29th. The team will provide commemorative tickets to view Lee Geun-ho’s hidden video letter, and will donate the profits from the ticket sales and Lee Geun-ho’s personal donation to the soccer development fund.
The entire Daegu FC squad, including Lee Geun-ho, will participate in Lee Geun-ho’s final send-off at Daepak. Various events will follow, including thank-yous from key players and greetings from players scheduled to enlist in the military.
For more information on the event lineup and details, please visit the official website and SNS (Instagram, Facebook).