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Frustrated Lee leaves Tokyo

Kyodo

Southampton striker Tadanari Lee fired a thinly veiled parting shot at FC Tokyo coach Ranko Popovic on Friday, saying he was leaving because he was unhappy at a lack of playing time during his loan spell with the J. League club.

“I felt like I was only playing in fits and starts and thought a different challenge would be better for me,” Lee told reporters after his final training session with the Gasmen.

Tokyo announced on Thursday that Lee would not be staying with the club after his loan period finishes at the end of this month.

The 27-year-old, whose extra-time wonder strike in a 1-0 win over Australia earned Japan its fourth Asian Cup in 2011, joined Tokyo in search of playing time he was not getting with his English Premier League club.

But he only made four starts in 13 league games. Lee turned down the offer of a permanent move to Tokyo.

“Maybe it was a case of me not being good enough,” he said. “I spoke to the coach and we tried to work something out.”