Premier League

Ki joins Newcastle, hints at Korea retirement

By JOHN DUERDEN

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) After joining Newcastle United on Friday, South Korea captain Ki Sung-yueng returned home to suggest that he may step down from the national team.

The 29 year-old headed to England after the 2018 World Cup that saw Korea exit the group stage despite a 2-0 defeat of Germany to sign for Newcastle United. The move ensures that the midfielder stays in the English Premier League after relegation with Swansea City in May.

"I can't confirm whether I will certainly retire as I cannot make the decision on my own," Ki told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "But I did organize my thoughts to some extent. For the last four years as a captain, I felt responsible for not leading this team well."

Ki has now played 104 games for Korea and could step down with the 2019 Asian Cup taking place in January.

"I saw many coaches come and go and felt considerable responsibility on my shoulders as a captain, so that really tired me out. But I haven't made up my mind yet. I will announce it when the time comes."

The former Celtic player is delighted however with his move to Newcastle and understands that he will have to fight for his place in the starting eleven of a team that finish in tenth place in the 2017-18 season. It could be that not playing for the national team will help.

"When I started to play in Europe, I cared about the national team whenever I made decisions," he said. "Until now, I've sacrificed for my national team, and I considered my national team important, so I had picked a club where I can play many games. But now the World Cup is over, and I don't have to do it that way."

Updated July 3, 2018