Powerhouse V-League club Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) fired Vietnamese American star Lee Nguyen on Saturday for disobeying coach Kiatisuk Senamuang.
In the second-round home match in Pleiku on February 7, Kiatisuk asked Lee to warm up for a substitution about 15 minutes from full time, but the Vietnamese expat refused.
Tension between the coach and the player had increased since then until the club management made the final decision on Saturday, a day before a game against arch rivals Dong Tam Long An in the third round.
Leeââ‚¬â„¢s indiscipline this time was the last straw. He had earlier violated the clubââ‚¬â„¢s regulations late last year but had not been penalized.
After a four-week practice session at English Premier club Arsenal ended in October 10, Lee asked HAGL to let him fly to the US for a two-week vacation with his family in Dallas. But over three months passed before Lee showed up in Vietnam.
Last November, club owner Doan Nguyen Duc said he would end the Vietnamese American midfielderââ‚¬â„¢s contract after Lee had failed to return to Vietnam after the two weeks allotted to him for a trip to the US had expired.
However, when Lee landed at HCMCââ‚¬â„¢s Tan Son Nhat Airport at midnight on January 19, Duc made a decision the following day not to penalize Lee after the player promised to do his best for the 2005-2006 champions in the 2010 season.
Lee moved to HAGL from Danish club Randers last January on a three-year contract with a monthly salary of US$10,000 plus bonuses. In the 2009 season, Lee scored 12 goals for the Central Highlands club. He is considered one of the best players in the league.
After Lee received the decision, his father Nguyen Van Pham said Lee would return to the US for a while before finding another club to play for.
Meanwhile, some observers have said Lee will return to Vietnam to play for another V-League club.
HAGL has no point at the moment after a 2-4 away loss to Khanh Hoa in the first round and a 1-2 home defeat to Hoa Phat Hanoi in the second round.
Source: Thanh Nien