Former South Korean football player Yoo Sang-chul, who starred in the lead-up to the 2002 World Cup semifinals, has died after battling pancreatic cancer, the Korean Football Association said Monday. He was 49.
The midfielder was a mainstay of the South Korean team as they surprised the world under Guus Hiddink at the 2002 World Cup, which the country co-hosted with Japan.
Yoo scored against Poland and started the group stage with a win, with the team beating Italy and Spain.
He made FIFA’s All-Star team of the tournament that year.
The KFA confirmed his passing with a message: “We will forever remember the cries and glory of that day with you. Rest in peace.”
Yoo spent his 16-year club career in Asia, where he played in the Japanese J-League and the K-League in his country.
He went on to coach, most recently at Incheon United in 2019, but was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that year, leaving him off the bench just months later.
Fans were shocked by the news of his passing and posted messages of condolence online.
“Thank you for giving us a wonderful memory that we will cherish forever,” read one message.
Another fan commented: “A hero to all of us, now please rest in peace.”