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No regrets, says Golden Ball winner Lee

Lodz: Golden Ball winner Lee Kang-in will savour every moment of the welcome the Korea Republic 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup squad will receive upon their return to Seoul on Monday.

A celebration ceremony has been arranged for the squad which defied expectations to finish runners-up to Ukraine on Saturday.

Korea Republic enjoyed a dream start, with midfielder Lee giving them the lead in the fifth minute from the penalty spot.

Korea Republic's exploits in the tournament, which had seen them score five consecutive wins en route to the final after having lost to Portugal in their tournament opener, eventually caught up with them as they tired and Ukraine walked away 3-1 winners.

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There was sadness within the Korean ranks at not being able to finish the job in their first world level final but Lee, awarded the tournament Golden Ball, said he had no regrets.

"There's no reason to cry. I don't do regrets," said the Valencia starlet to local media.

"This has been a great tournament. I am grateful for everything that's happened since Day One," Lee said. "I want to thank my teammates for being part of this. I knew they were exhausted today, but they never showed it."

Lee, who ended the tournament with two goals and four assists, earned the Golden Ball as the best player for his efforts.

At 18, he was the youngest player in the squad but the top playmaker.

"This is an award for the entire team. We all played as one on the field," Lee said. "I didn't think winning the Golden Ball would be that important to me. Our goal was to win the championship, and it's a shame we came up short. But I played as hard as I could, and I have no regrets."

Head coach Chung Jung-yong put the loss on himself.

"The players did the absolute best they could, and they executed everything tactically and strategically," Chung said. "As their coach, I didn't quite give them the opportunity to succeed. I'll try to learn from this experience."

There may not have been the joy of lifting a first FIFA title but Korea Republic have every reason to be proud.

Thousands watched the final at street screenings on Saturday and the celebration on Monday is expected to draw a huge crowd as the fans show their appreciation to Lee and his teammates.

Photos: FIFA via Getty Images

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