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Italian club 'axes S.Korean hero'

Ahn Jung Hwan could now be looking for a new club
Ahn Jung Hwan could now be looking for a new club  

ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- Italian football club Perugia has cut its ties with the South Korean player whose golden goal knocked Italy out of the World Cup, the club's chairman has said.

Ahn Jung-hwan became a national hero in South Korea after scoring the headed goal that put his side into the quarterfinals for the first time.

But Perugia chairman Luciano Gaucci told Italian sports' daily La Gazzetta dello Sport: "That gentleman will never set foot in Perugia again,"

Italy has reacted with fury to Tuesday's shock 2-1 defeat to South Korea, accusing the referee and soccer's ruling body FIFA of fixing the match. (Full story)

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Ahn, who missed a penalty earlier in the match, joined Perugia on loan from the South Korean team Pusan in the summer of 2000. (Match report)

He scored five goals in 29 appearances but was regarded as an underachiever and his latest strike attracted the ire of Italy's fanatical football fans.

"He was a phenomenon only when he played against Italy. I am a nationalist and I regard such behaviour not only as an affront to Italian pride but also an offence to a country which two years ago opened its doors to him," Gaucci was quoted as saying.

"I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer."

A Perugia spokesman said on Wednesday the club had virtually decided to release Ahn even before the World Cup tie.

Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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