|Yoo Sang-chul during a match at Tancheon Sports Complex in Sungnam, Gyeonggi Province, Oct. 19. Korea Times file|
By Park Si-soo
South Korean football star Yoo Sang-chul, 48, who as a midfielder contributed to the nation's historic advance to a quarter-final in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, is suffering stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Yoo, head coach of professional football club Incheon United, revealed his situation in a statement on Tuesday, amid growing rumors of his health problem.
"I've been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer," he wrote in the statement posted on the club's website. "I had jaundiced eyes and abnormalities in the body in late October. Shortly afterward I underwent a thorough health checkup and got diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer."
Stage 4 means the cancer has metastasized, or spread, from the pancreas to other organs (usually the liver, abdominal wall, lungs, bones or the lymph nodes), according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's website. Intensive chemotherapy is necessary to keep the cancer from spreading.
Yoo said he had received the first round of treatment and returned to the team to keep a promise to players and fans ― saving the team from falling to the second-division league.
Incheon United ranks 10th in K-League's first-division, with six wins, 12 draws and 18 losses. The team's fate hinges on its two remaining matches (Nov. 24 and 30).
"I will do my best to keep the team in the first division," Yoo said. "I will never give up saving my team. I will also never give up fighting the cancer and end up prevailing."
In a show of respect for Yoo's will, the team has decided to keep him in the coaching post until the end of the season.