Send-off ceremony for Cha Du-ri planned for next month

February 12, 2015
Cha Du-ri (Yonhap)

Cha Du-ri (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — A retirement ceremony for South Korean football defender Cha Du-ri will be held next month during a friendly match in Seoul, officials said Wednesday.

South Korea is scheduled to host Uzbekistan on March 27 and New Zealand four days later. One will take place at Seoul World Cup Stadium and the other will be played outside Seoul.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said the send-off ceremony for Cha, a 34-year-old fullback who played his last international match at the AFC Asian Cup last month, will take place in Seoul, though it hasn’t been decided which of the two matches will be in the nation’s capital.

An official with the KFA said the ceremony for Cha may take place at halftime.

Cha, a forward-turned-defender, made his international debut in 2001 as a collegiate player and went on to earn 75 caps. He represented South Korea at two FIFA World Cups, in 2002 and 2010, and reached the knockout stage at both tournaments.

At the Asian Cup last month, Cha was South Korea’s oldest player but was an energetic presence, setting up goals with speed and sharp passes on offense, while foiling opponents’ scoring opportunities with physical play on defense.

As the competition wore on, Cha became a rallying point for his teammates, who vowed to win the Asian Cup for the departing veteran. South Korea, though, lost to Australia in the final.

Cha will also hang up his cleats in club football after one final season with FC Seoul in the K League Classic.

“No matter what, this will be my last year,” Cha said earlier Wednesday at FC Seoul’s practice ground in Guri, just east of Seoul. “No one knows what kind of season I will have. My last hope is to play well and to be remembered fondly as a good football player.”

Cha is also the son of South Korean football legend Cha Bum-kun, who enjoyed a successful club career in Germany’s Bundesliga in the 1980s. The junior Cha once said he often found it difficult to get out of the shadow of his father, one of South Korea’s greatest players who also enjoyed a successful club coaching career.

At a local football ceremony bearing his name, Cha Bum-kun told reporters that he doesn’t plan to talk his son out of retirement.

“He did everything he could in his final (international) match except for scoring a goal,” the senior Cha said. “I think the player himself has the clearest idea of when it’s time to retire. I know he has a lot of talent in areas other than playing football, and he wants to try his hand at different things. He can contribute to football by doing other things, too.”