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Park Ji-sung

Park Ji-Sung (Hangul: ; Hanja: ; ; sometimes romanised as Park Ji-Suong; born 25 February 1981) is a South Korean association football who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester United F.C.. Park Ji-sung was also the Captain (association football) of the South Korea national football team until Park Ji-sung retirement from international football. Park Ji-sung is the most decorated Asian footballer in history, as the first Asian people player to have won the List of European Cup and UEFA Champions League winning players and the first Asian to have played in a 2009 UEFA Champions League Final of the UEFA Champions League.

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Park Ji-sung biography

Park Ji-Sung (Hangul: ; Hanja: ; ; sometimes romanised as Park Ji-Suong; born 25 February 1981) is a South Korean association football who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester United F.C.. Park Ji-sung was also the Captain (association football) of the South Korea national football team until Park Ji-sung retirement from international football. Park Ji-sung is the most decorated Asian footballer in history, as the first Asian people player to have won the List of European Cup and UEFA Champions League winning players and the first Asian to have played in a 2009 UEFA Champions League Final of the UEFA Champions League.

Park began Park Ji-sung football career in Park Ji-sung native South Korea and played for the Myongji University team before moving to Japan to play for Kyoto Sanga F.C.. After Park's national team manager Guus Hiddink moved back to the Netherlands to manage PSV Eindhoven, Park followed Park Ji-sung to the Dutch side a year later. After PSV reached the semi-finals of the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, Park's talents were recognised by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and Park Ji-sung signed Park for a fee of around £4 million in July 2005. Since then, Park has won the Premier League four times and has also won the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. Park is able to play anywhere across the midfield and is noted for Park Ji-sung exceptional fitness level, discipline, work ethic and off-the-ball movement.

As a member of the South Korean national team, Park won 100 caps and scored 13 goals, and was a member of the team that finished fourth at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Park Ji-sung also represented Park Ji-sung nation at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and was captain at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Park scored in all three consecutive tournaments (the first South Korean and only second Asian player to do so) and is currently Asia's joint all-time leading goalscorer at the FIFA World Cup finals with three goals, alongside compatriot Ahn Jung-Hwan, and Saudi Arabia national football team's Sami Al-Jaber. After the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, on 31 January 2011, Park announced that Park Ji-sung was retiring from international football at a press conference held by the Korea Football Association in Seoul.


Early career

Although Park Ji-sung was born in South Korean capital, Seoul, Park Ji-Sung grew up in Suwon, a Satellite town south of Seoul. Park Ji-sung began playing football during Park Ji-sung fourth year of elementary school. During this time, Park was known as one of the greatest young talents in South Korea and was being looked at by a number of different clubs. Park Ji-sung was well known for Park Ji-sung excellent work rate, mesmerizing dribbling and pinpoint passes.

While in high school (March 1996 – February 1999), Park Ji-sung helped Park Ji-sung high school team win the national championship in 1998, though Park Ji-sung was at that point rejected by a number of professional clubs and universities, due to Park Ji-sung small stature, however, Park Ji-sung fitness coach, Sam Y. Kim suggested Park should continue to pursue a career in soccer. Park Ji-sung ended up playing for Myongji University after Park Ji-sung high school coach strongly recommended Park Ji-sung to the university coach.

From the winter vacation of Park Ji-sung third high school year, Park Ji-sung began to train with Park Ji-sung university team as a soon to be member. A few weeks later, in January 1999, Park Ji-sung university team was given the chance to train with the South Korea national under-23 football team. After a splendid performance, Park Ji-sung attracted the attention of Huh Jung-Moo, the coach of the Olympic Team and South Korea national football team (October 1998 – November 2000). Thereafter Park Ji-sung became a preliminary member of the Olympics Team, and finally a formal member of Football at the 2000 Summer Olympics – Men's team squads South Korea. At 18 years old, if Park was selected, it was believed that Park Ji-sung would have been selected for South Korea national under-20 football team instead of Huh's Olympics team, the under-23 team.
This selection was so unexpected for Park and others that it was rumoured that Huh selected Park in response for Huh's defeat at a game of Go (game) between Huh and the university coach.

On 5 April 2000, in a 2000 AFC Asian Cup qualification match against Laos national football team, Park made South Korea national football team records as a member of the national team, along with Lee Chun-Soo. In June 2000, while Park Ji-sung was a national team member and a second year student at Myongji University, Kyoto Sanga F.C. of Japan offered Park a contract and Park Ji-sung took the offer though Park Ji-sung was still a relative unknown. Park was the first instance of a relatively unknown Korean player being offered a contract by a Japanese club.

In September 2000, at the Football at the 2000 Summer Olympics, Park Ji-sung Olympics team failed to advance to the knockout stage, and the Korea national football team replaced head coach Huh Jung-Moo with Guus Hiddink.

Kyoto Purple Sanga

In June 2000, Park signed with Japanese club named Kyoto Sanga F.C.. In the spring of 2000, hearing that there was a rising star in Korea, Bunji Kimura, Sanga's coach at the time, visited Korea along with other scouts. In a practice game, the rising star did not attract their attention, whereas Park did. In an interview, Kimura said:

In 2001, the club won J. League Division 2 and were promoted to J. League Division 1. In 2002, Park led the team to the final of the Emperor's Cup, and in the final on January 1, 2003, Park Ji-sung scored the equaliser with a header and assisted on Teruaki Kurobe's winning goal. The team went on to win the match 2–1 to become the Emperor's Cup champions for the first time in Sanga's history. This was Park's last game for Sanga. In January 2003, Park Ji-sung left Sanga as Guus Hiddink invited Park Ji-sung to play for PSV Eindhoven.

PSV Eindhoven

After the World Cup, Hiddink was appointed as manager of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. In 2003, Park and South Korean teammate Lee Young-Pyo moved to PSV Eindhoven in order to play under their mentor and former national team coach. While Lee quickly became a fixture in PSV Eindhoven's starting lineup, Park struggled due to injuries.

However, by the end of 2003–04 season, Park had begun to adapt to the Netherlands, both on and off the field. In the 2004–05 season, the departure of Arjen Robben to Chelsea F.C. afforded Park more starting opportunities and Park Ji-sung quickly proved Park Ji-sung worth to the team. Along with Johann Vogel, DaMarcus Beasley and Dutchmen Mark van Bommel and Philip Cocu, Park formed the backbone of PSV Eindhoven's midfield play with Park Ji-sung pace and passing. Having been a top contributor of goals and assists that season, the highlight of Park's PSV career came when Park Ji-sung scored the first goal against Italian team A.C. Milan in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. PSV went on to win the home Two-legged tie 3–1, but their 2–0 loss during the away leg meant Milan advanced to the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final.

Nevertheless, thanks to these strong performances, Park was chosen, along with Andriy Shevchenko, Adriano Leite Ribeiro, Samuel Eto'o, and Ronaldinho as one of the nominees for the 2005 UEFA Best Forward award. PSV fans were so enamoured with Park that they wrote a song about Park Ji-sung entitled "Song for Park", which was included on the official PSV album PSV Kampioen.

Manchester United

In the closing months of the 2004–05 in English football season, Park chose to join Alex Ferguson's Manchester United F.C.. Park signed for the Premier League side for Pound sterling4 million, subject to a medical and work permit.

Park became the first Asian to ever captain Manchester United when Park Ji-sung took the armband from Ryan Giggs as Park Ji-sung replaced Park Ji-sung during a UEFA Champions League home group match against Lille OSC on 18 October 2005. Park Ji-sung first goal for Manchester United came on 20 December 2005, during a 3–1 win over Birmingham City F.C. in the Football League Cup fifth round. On 5 February 2006, Park appeared to have scored Park Ji-sung first Premier League goal, coming against Fulham F.C. in United's 4–2 victory at Old Trafford. However, the Premier League's Dubious Goals Panel later ruled that this was an own goal due to a deflection off the Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra. On 9 April 2006, Park scored Park Ji-sung first official league goal, netting the second of a 2–0 home win over Arsenal F.C..

In April 2007, Park was sent to America for surgery on a recurring knee injury, putting an end to Park Ji-sung season. Although sidelined by injury for most of the season, Park Ji-sung still played in enough matches to become the first South Korean player to win the Premier League.

On 1 March 2008, Park scored Park Ji-sung first league goal of the 2007–08 Premier League after returning from Park Ji-sung long-term injury against Fulham. Park Ji-sung lack of appearances had caused much controversy in South Korea, but Park Ji-sung proved Park Ji-sung worth when Park Ji-sung delivered an assist to Wayne Rooney in the Champions League quarter-final match against A.S. Roma. On 29 April 2008, Manchester United advanced to the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final after beating FC Barcelona. However, Park was excluded from the squad to face Chelsea F.C. in the final; manager Alex Ferguson later stated that leaving Park Ji-sung out was one of the hardest decisions Park Ji-sung had had to make throughout Park Ji-sung managerial career.

Early in the 2008–09 Premier League season, in an away match versus Chelsea, Park scored the only goal for United in a 1–1 draw on 21 September 2008, in a game which Park Ji-sung also won the Man of the Match award. On 13 December 2008, Park Ji-sung made Park Ji-sung 100th appearance for Manchester United, starting in the match against Tottenham Hotspur F.C. at White Hart Lane, the game ended 0–0. Park was included in the 23-man squad for the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup held at the end of 2008. Park Ji-sung missed the semi-final but played the full 90 minutes in the final which they won 1–0 becoming the first English side to win the competition. On 7 March 2009, Park scored Park Ji-sung first FA Cup goal in the 4–0 quarter-final win over Fulham at Craven Cottage, Park Ji-sung latched onto a miss placed pass by Zoltán Gera eventually slotting it into the far corner for the fourth and final goal. On 15 April 2009, Manchester United advanced to semi-finals of the Champions League by defeating F.C. Porto 3–2 on aggregate. This made Park the only Asian player to be part of UEFA Champions League semi-finals on four different occasions.

On 2 May 2009, Park verbally agreed to a new four-year £50,000-a-week deal at Manchester United, stating "I have no reason to move. I play at the best club in the world". Following this announcement, Park scored Park Ji-sung second league goal of the season, and third overall, in a 2–0 away win against Middlesbrough F.C.. On 5 May 2009, Park scored Park Ji-sung first UEFA Champions League goal for Manchester United in the second leg of the semi-final against Arsenal F.C. at the Emirates Stadium. Park Ji-sung pounced on a slip by Kieran Gibbs and placed the ball over Manuel Almunia in the 8th minute, with the game ending 3–1 (4–1 on aggregate), advancing United to the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final for the second year running. Park became the first Asian player in history to play in a Champions League Final.

On 14 September 2009, Park signed a three-year contract extension with United, keeping Park Ji-sung at the club until 2012. Ferguson said during the summer that Park Ji-sung was always confident a deal would be done with Park, whose wages are estimated to be about £65,000 a week. On 31 January 2010, Park scored Park Ji-sung first goal of the 2009–10 Premier League, hitting United's third in a 3–1 win against Arsenal F.C.. Park Ji-sung last goal also came against Arsenal at the Emirates in the same scoreline, coming in the UEFA Champions League, this was also the first time United had beaten Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League. On 10 March 2010, Park scored Park Ji-sung first UEFA Champions League goal of the season which was also Park Ji-sung first for United in Europe at Old Trafford, hitting the third in a 4–0 win over A.C. Milan. This was also Park Ji-sung second goal against Milan in the Champions League. On 21 March 2010, Park scored a crucial winner in the Liverpool F.C. and Manchester United F.C. rivalry against Liverpool F.C., turning in Darren Fletcher's right-wing cross with a diving header. On 4 May 2010, Park committed himself to United by openly claiming Park Ji-sung would like to spend the rest of career with them, saying "There is no reason to move to any other team." On 9 May 2010, Park netted on the final day of the season, scoring a close-range diving header against Stoke City F.C. to wrap up a 4–0 win.

Park returned to the United team for the first time following the 2010 FIFA World Cup as Park Ji-sung started against a League of Ireland in their final pre-season game on 4 August 2010. Park Ji-sung marked this game with the first ever goal scored at the newly built Aviva Stadium, Park Ji-sung then scored a second later on as United ended the game 7–1 winners. On 22 September 2010, Park netted Park Ji-sung first goal of the 2010–11 season as Park Ji-sung scored United's fourth of a 5–2 away win against Scunthorpe United F.C. in the 3rd round of the Football League Cup. Park Ji-sung then netted in the next round of the League Cup, scoring United's second goal in a 3–2 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. on 26 October 2010. Park scored Park Ji-sung first two league goals of the season in a 2–1 home win over Wolves on 6 November, the second a late winner in the 93rd minute. On 27 November, Park scored United's second goal in a 7–1 home victory over Blackburn Rovers F.C.. Park's performance's during November 2010 helped Park Ji-sung gain the Player of the Month award from the

On 28 August 2011, Park scored the sixth goal in an 8–2 home win against Arsenal F.C., shortly after coming on as a second half substitute. Park made Park Ji-sung first start of the season in the Premier League in a 2-0 home win against Norwich City F.C.. Late on in the game Park Ji-sung was involved in a neat one-two with Danny Welbeck in the creation of United's second goal of the day, which Welbeck finished. On 26 December 2011 Park scored an early goal in United's 5-0 home win against Wigan Athletic F.C. with a neat side foot finish from Patrice Evra's cutback. Park Ji-sung also won the penalty that wrapped up the win which Dimitar Berbatov scored to complete Park Ji-sung hat-trick. In a 4th round FA Cup clash against Liverpool, Park scored an equalising goal with a low finish from a Rafael Da Silva cross to make it 1-1, United did eventually go on to lose the tie late on.

On 5 February 2012, Park made Park Ji-sung 200th appearance for Manchester United by coming on as a substitute in the 86th minute against Chelsea. Park Ji-sung became the 92nd player in the history of the club to reach the milestone.

On 23 February 2012 Park captained Manchester United for the first ever time from the beginning of a match in a 1-2 home defeat to Ajax in the Europa League. Although the match ended in a defeat, United still advanced to the Round of 16 with a 3-2 aggregate score.

International career

Park began Park Ji-sung international career for South Korea national football team as a 19-year-old Midfielder Defensive midfielder and made Park Ji-sung first appearance selection during 2000 Summer Olympics U-23 regional qualifier. Selected by then manager, Huh Jung-Moo, for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Park was unable to improve or show potential. However, when Guus Hiddink became the head coach of South Korea, Park's position was shifted to that of a Midfielder Winger; since then, Park Ji-sung has become a versatile player able to play in a variety of positions: central, right and left midfield, as well as wing-forward.

2002 FIFA World Cup

Park scored a memorable goal during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. During the group stages South Korea had won their first game against Poland and drew against USA. In order to advance, they had to manage a draw at the least against favoured Portugal national football team side. The game was 0–0 until the 70th minute following two red cards against Portugal, when Park scored the match winner, controlling the ball with Park Ji-sung chest and beating Sérgio Conceição before volleying it through the legs of Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia and into the net with Park Ji-sung left foot. Park Ji-sung goal eliminated Portugal and advanced South Korea into the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time.

2006 FIFA World Cup

Park's success in the World Cup continued into the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Park Ji-sung scored the equalising goal in the second Group G match against eventual finalists France national football team and was voted Man of the match. Park Ji-sung became the first Asian to score in three consecutive World Cup finals and became Asia's joint all-time leading scorer in the FIFA World Cup with three goals, alongside compatriot Ahn Jung-Hwan and Sami Al-Jaber of Saudi Arabia national football team.

2011 AFC Asian Cup

Park's father, Park Sung-jong, said Park Ji-sung son has planned to end Park Ji-sung national team career after the 2011 AFC Asian Cup tournament in Qatar. Park traveled to the tournament on 26 December 2010 as 2011 AFC Asian Cup squads captain. However, it wouldn't end in victory as they lost 3–0 during the Penalty shootout (association football) following 2–2 after Overtime (sports). South Korea coach Cho Kwang-Rae confirmed on 28 January that Park had retired from international duty as Park Ji-sung was left out of their 3–2 third place play-off victory over Uzbekistan national football team. Park was nominated as the tournament's MVP alongside Mark Schwarzer, Keisuke Honda and Server Djeparov. The award was eventually won by Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda. On 31 January, Park confirmed Park Ji-sung retirement from international football to make way for younger players with "enormous potential".

International goals

Style of play

Park has received much acclaim at Manchester United for Park Ji-sung work rate and energy which have seen Park Ji-sung deployed all over the midfield, including in the middle of the pitch and on both wings, where Park Ji-sung operates as a "defensive winger". Park Ji-sung manager Alex Ferguson said about Park: "Park Ji-sung is the most persistent player I have ever trained". Park Ji-sung average in season 2008/2009 was more that 17 kilometres per match. Park Ji-sung can play in several positions and Park Ji-sung is very team-working too." Park Ji-sung is also known as something of a "big game player", often used by Alex Ferguson in big league games or European games where there is an extra emphasis on defensive work.


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