Kuala Lumpur: Newly crowned Asian player of the year Lee Keun-Ho insisted he had no regrets about embarking on a two-year stint of military service despite having to put a "dream" move to Europe on hold.
South Korea's Lee, 27, was handed Asia's highest individual honour at a ceremony late on Thursday, after an outstanding season in which he helped Ulsan Hyundai sweep unbeaten to the AFC Champions League trophy.
Winger-cum-striker Lee is also just days away from another career highlight at the Club World Cup in Japan, where Ulsan will play Mexico's Monterrey next week for a shot at European champions Chelsea.
But afterwards Lee, instead of following ex-Manchester United star Park Ji-Sung and Park Chu-Young to Europe, will be drafted into military team Sangiu Sangmu Phoenix, just relegated to the K-League's second tier.
"I made a decision... This is the best time for me to go to military service," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. "It doesn't mean I quit playing."
When asked about joining a European team, Lee said "definitely not now" but he admitted it would be a "dream" for any player.
"I (would) prefer to play in Europe. Anywhere I will be is fine as long as I can play in Europe," he said.
South Korea's compulsory military service proved problematic for Park Chu-Young earlier this year, when he was dropped from the national team for delaying his call-up by obtaining a 10-year residency visa for Monaco.