One To Watch - Ji-Sung Park
Ji-Sung Park was born in Seoul, South Korea, on 25 February 1981. He went to Suwon Technical High School from 1997 - 2000. Even though he was rejected by some professional clubs due to his short stature, his football coach recommended him to the coach of the football team at Myongji University.
He joined their team but, after a few months, was approached by representatives of Japanese side Kyoto Purple Sanga. Park made 76 appearances for the Kyoto side, scoring 11 goals, between January 2000 and September 2003.
Guus Hiddink, coach of the South Korean international team, spotted Park`s talents. When Hiddink left the international team to join PSV Eindhoven as manager, Park followed him to the Netherlands, joining PSV on 1st September 2003. Whilst at PSV, Park helped them win the Dutch League and Cup Double.
Park made 82 appearances for the Dutch side, scoring 14 goals, before leaving them for Manchester United, for £4,000,000, on 5th July 2005. Possibly Park`s most memorable goal for PSV may have been the goal he scored against AC Milan in the Champions League Semi-Final first leg, the first goal in a 3-1 victory over the Italian giants. That goal awarded him the honour of being the first Asian to score in the UEFA Champions League.
In his first season at United, Park played in all but four of the first team`s Premiership matches, as his new club finished runners-up to Chelsea in the league that season. He scored his first goal for United in a League Cup Quarter Final match against Birmingham City, which Manchester United won 3-1. He scored his first league goal against Arsenal on 9th April 2006, in a 2-0 victory over the Londoners at Old Trafford.
Park won his first medal with United in February 2006, when Manchester United won the Carling Cup beating Wigan 4-0.
Park suffered from a knee injury that required surgery and therefore prematurely ended his first season in a championship winning team, when United wrested the Premiership from Chelsea in 2006/07. However, he had played sufficient matches before his injury to ensure that he did receive a champion`s medal that year.
He missed the first half of the 2007/08 season whilst recovering from surgery, returning to duty at Christmas time 2007. And that season was not to end in disappointment for Park, as he won both a Champions League and Premiership medal, as Manchester United recorded an extraordinary domestic and European double.
Park had played his part in helping United reach the finals of the Champions League, where they faced Chelsea, but he was not included in the squad for the Final, although he played against both Roma and Barcelona in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Park has made 73 appearances for the South Korean international team, scoring 9 times for them. He has even had the honour of captaining the international side. He has also captained Manchester United, being the first Asian ever to do so.
Park is an attacking midfielder who can also play on the wing. He has tremendous pace and one description, given to me by a Manchester United fan, is that he has "a lively style of play". Park has made 91 appearances for the Reds, scoring 9 goals, to date. This season he has made 9 appearances, scoring one goal and receiving one yellow card. He wears the number 13 shirt.
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