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Memories to stay with Lee Tae Hoon ‘forever’

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Then Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon attends a press conference ahead of a 2018 World Cup qualifier on October 12, 2015. AFP

Memories to stay with Lee Tae Hoon ‘forever’

South Korean Lee Tae Hoon, who in his reign as the National football head coach for over five years across two stints took Cambodian football to uncharted domain of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the third round of the 2019 Asian Cup, has announced the expiry of his contract with the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC).

Since April 2017, Lee Tae Hoon had been in charge of the national U16 squad until his contract expired.

The 47-year-old Hoon was the second South Korean to work for the FFC and will go down in the Kingdom’s history as the second longest serving foreign coach after German Joachim Fickert, who ran the side from June 1996 to January 2003.

But by a long way he is well ahead of all others when it comes to the number of matches involving the national team he had led to the pitch.

‘An honour, a pleasure’

When he was replaced in March last year by Brazilian Leonardo Vittorino, Lee Tae Hoon had been by the touchline in 35 matches with a record of 12 wins, two draws and 20 defeats for an overall 37 per cent win record.

A self-described “libero” or a free-roaming player in his playing days back in Korea, Hoon was a strong proponent of fusion of force and finesse, a philosophy he tried mighty to instil in the national side, extending it to the U16 team he was entrusted with in April last year.

He held that job with great passion until the end of his contractual obligations.

In his farewell address to the Cambodian football community, Lee Tae Hoon called his seven years and three months in Cambodia from “an honour, a pleasure, yet a challenge”.

Expressing his gratitude to the FFC’s president, General Sao Sokha, for giving him this precious experience, the South Korean thanked the players, fellow coaches, support staff and officials for their unflinching support.

But his biggest praise was reserved for the Cambodian fans for their love and enthusiasm for football and their wholehearted support with scant regard for the results.

“Your solid support meant a lot to the players and in particular me. Some of these memories will forever remain with me,” he said.

“Wherever I am in the future I will always be with football and I will always support Cambodia,” Lee Tae Hoon concluded in an emotional statement released to the public.

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