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GURI, South Korea, April 4 (Yonhap) -- The head coach of footballer Cha Du-ri, who is going through a public divorce, told the media on Thursday to leave the player alone.
Choi Yong-soo, head coach of FC Seoul in the K League Classic, said he no longer wanted to see speculative or gossipy articles about Cha in the press.
"Cha Du-ri is a young man who is only focused on his family, his faith and football," Choi said at the team's weekly press conference in its training camp in Guri, east of Seoul. "I hope you will all see him as a man and a football player."
Legal industry sources said Wednesday Cha had filed for divorce mediation against his wife, Shin Hye-seong, ending their five-year marriage.
Cha, son of the South Korean football legend Cha Bum-kun, has one daughter and one son with Shin. The junior Cha signed a two-year contract with FC Seoul last month after spending 11 years overseas with German and Scottish clubs. He played for South Korea as the country reached the semifinals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which it co-hosted with Japan.
Choi asked the media to be more considerate as Cha Du-ri suffers through difficult times.
"Cha Du-ri can really keep his personal matters separated from what he does on the field," the coach said. "He is his own toughest critic, and that's what made him the player he is today."
Cha had been released by his last German club, Dusseldorf, in February, and had only played sparingly before his departure.
Cha was said to have been close to retirement before coming to South Korea. Choi said Cha has been working hard to get back into playing shape and his K League Classic debut may come earlier than anticipated.
"I respect Cha Du-ri," Choi said. "I am sure (his personal issues) will not affect his performance."
FC Seoul won the league title in 2012 but has two draws and two losses in the first four games this season, only good for 11th place among 14 clubs.
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