VANCOUVER, BC – After concluding his storied 14-year professional career in Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s season finale October 27 at BC Place, Young-Pyo Lee was honoured at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Korea on Friday.
The Korean Football Association (KFA) held a retirement ceremony for Lee following South Korea's 2-1 win over Switzerland. During the retirement ceremony, fans threw thousands of paper airplanes onto the pitch and Lee picked up five of them to determine which fans received jerseys.
Experience Y.P. Lee's final match in Vancouver
Earlier this week, the former PSV Eindhoven and Tottenham Hotspur fullback spoke to reporters at a press conference held at the KFA headquarters. True to form, Lee offered a modest self-assessment of his illustrious career – a testament to his character and drive to be the best.
“I am wrapping up my career that was filled with the joy of victory and agony of defeat and would like to bid goodbye,” he read from a prepared statement.
"I also want to apologize to many fans … Korea's biggest weakness in the 2000s was an unstable defence and I was part of the problem,” Lee continued. “It may have been not so obvious but there were many games my team lost because of me.”
The native of Hongcheon-gun, South Korea, who appeared in three World Cups, retired from international competition in January 2011 and ranks third on his country’s all-time appearance list with 127 caps.
"Whenever I donned our uniform and listened to the national anthem before each game, I realized football isn't just about myself but about the team," Lee recalled. "I felt just how significant and exciting it is to represent a country in a football game."
"If I were to evaluate my overall performance, I would award myself 80 points (out of 100) as a player but 100 as a person who enjoyed and loved soccer," he concluded.
Lee, 36, played two full seasons with Whitecaps FC after making the move to Vancouver in 2011. The shifty fullback made an immediate impact with the Blue and White and was named the club's player of the year in his first season. In total, he started 63 of his 65 Major League Soccer appearances, recording a goal and 10 assists over that period.
The South Korean legend, who has expressed interest in doing an MBA at the University of British Columbia and continuing to train with Whitecaps FC once a week, will return to Vancouver at the end of the month.