Saitama (Japan) (AFP) – Asian Champions League legend Dejan Damjanovic said Friday he had “probably” played his last game in the competition at the age of 41 after scoring an all-time record 42 goals.
The Montenegrin striker, now with Hong Kong side Kitchee, is one of Asian club football’s greatest players and has appeared in the Champions League for four different clubs over nine seasons in the last 13 years.
His involvement in this year’s edition came to a goalless end after a 4-0 defeat to Thailand’s BG Pathum United in the round of 16 on Friday.
He said he is unlikely to play in next year’s Asian Champions League with the competition set to switch to an autumn start, after his contract with Kitchee expires in May.
“I will not say 100 percent but I think this is my last ACL,” Damjanovic said after the game in the Japanese city of Saitama, where all the East zone knockout games are being held.
“I always say probably, leaving some question mark — you never know what’s coming in the future.”
Damjanovic said he was hoping for a fairy tale “last dance” to end his Champions League career, with Kitchee becoming the first Hong Kong team ever to reach the knockout stage.
BG Pathum’s four-goal demolition put paid to that but Damjanovic’s 42 career goals in the competition mean his legacy will live on for years to come.
– Seoul man –
The Montenegrin, who arrived in Asia with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli in 2006, said he was “sure” his record would be broken.
“One guy, maybe not now, maybe in five years, maybe in two, maybe in 10, one guy will come and enjoy Asia as much as me and he will stay here for a long time and break this record,” he said.
“But now, for the future generation, it’s nice. It’s going to be the goal they need to reach.”
Damjanovic is best known for his time in South Korea, where he helped FC Seoul finish as Champions League runners-up in 2013 during a five-year stint.
The striker never managed to win the competition but he believes it has grown in strength during his long and storied career in Asia.
“Before, it was a big difference between Korea, Japan and other countries — now you see a Thailand team, a Malaysia team, a Hong Kong team can compete,” he said.
“Everybody is improving and it shows that everybody invests in football and they are very ambitious to do something in the ACL.”
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