Park Ji-Sung

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Park Ji-Sung
Park Ji-Sung vs Fulham 2010.jpg
Personal information
Full namePark Ji-Sung[1]
Date of birth(1981-02-25) 25 February 1981 (age 31)
Place of birthGoheung, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Height1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)[2]
Playing positionMidfielder
Club information
Current clubQueens Park Rangers
Youth career
1999–2000Myongji University
Senior career*
2000–2002Kyoto Purple Sanga76(11)
2002–2005PSV Eindhoven64(13)
2005–2012Manchester United134(19)
2012–Queens Park Rangers4(0)
National team
1999–2004South Korea U2323(3)
2000–2011South Korea100(13)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 September 2012.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 25 January 2011
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Park Ji-Sung
Park Ji-Sung vs Fulham 2010.jpg
Personal information
Full namePark Ji-Sung[1]
Date of birth(1981-02-25) 25 February 1981 (age 31)
Place of birthGoheung, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Height1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)[2]
Playing positionMidfielder
Club information
Current clubQueens Park Rangers
Youth career
1999–2000Myongji University
Senior career*
2000–2002Kyoto Purple Sanga76(11)
2002–2005PSV Eindhoven64(13)
2005–2012Manchester United134(19)
2012–Queens Park Rangers4(0)
National team
1999–2004South Korea U2323(3)
2000–2011South Korea100(13)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 15 September 2012.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 25 January 2011
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBak Jiseong
McCune–ReischauerPak Chisŏng

Park Ji-Sung (Hangul: ; Hanja: ; Korean pronunciation: [pak̚t͈ɕisʌŋ] born 25 February 1981) is a South Korean footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Queens Park Rangers, for whom he serves as captain. He was also the captain of the South Korean national team until his retirement from international football. He is the most decorated Asian footballer in history, as the first Asian player to have won the Champions League trophy and the first Asian to have played in a final of the UEFA Champions League.[3] Park is able to play anywhere across the midfield and is noted for his exceptional fitness level, discipline, work ethic and off-the-ball movement.[4]

Park began his football career in his native South Korea and played for the Myongji University team before moving to Japan to play for Kyoto Purple Sanga. After Park's national team manager Guus Hiddink moved back to the Netherlands to manage PSV Eindhoven, Park followed him 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 he signed Park for a fee of around £4 million in July 2005. In his time at Manchester United, Park won the Premier League four times and also won the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League and the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup. He moved to Queens Park Rangers in July 2012 after suffering a reduction in his number of appearances for Manchester United the previous season.

As a member of the South Korean national team, Park won 100 caps and scored 13 goals,[5] and was a member of the team that finished fourth at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He also represented his 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's Sami Al-Jaber. After the 2011 Asian Cup, on 31 January 2011, Park announced that he was retiring from international football at a press conference held by the Korea Football Association in Seoul.[6]



Early career

Although many sources report that he was born in the South Korean capital, Seoul, Park Ji-Sung was actually born in Goheung, Jeollanam-do.[7] He grew up in Suwon,[8] a satellite city 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Seoul. He began playing football during his 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. He was well known for his excellent work rate, mesmerizing dribbling and pinpoint passes. While in high school (March 1996 – February 1999), he helped his high school team win the national championship in 1998, though he was at that point rejected by a number of professional clubs and universities, due to his small stature, however, his fitness coach, Sam Y. Kim suggested Park should continue to pursue a career in soccer. He ended up playing for Myongji University after his high school coach strongly recommended him to the university coach.

From the winter vacation of his third high school year, he began to train with his university team as a soon to be member. A few weeks later, in January 1999, his university team was given the chance to train with the South Korean Olympics Team. After a splendid performance, he attracted the attention of Huh Jung-Moo, the coach of the Olympic Team and South Korean national team (October 1998 – November 2000). Thereafter he became a preliminary member of the Olympics Team, and finally a formal member of its squad. At 18 years old, it was believed that if Park had not been selected for the Under-23 Olympic team, he would have been selected for the under-20 team instead. 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 between Huh and the university coach.[9]

On 5 April 2000, in a 2000 AFC Asian Cup qualification match against Laos, Park made his debut as a member of the national team, along with Lee Chun-Soo. In June 2000, while he was a national team member and a second year student at Myongji University, Kyoto Purple Sanga of Japan offered Park a contract and he took the offer though he 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 2000 Summer Olympics, his 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 the Kyoto-based then J. League Division 2 side Kyoto Purple Sanga. 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 a practice match, a player arrested our eyes. Despite his injuries, Park's performance was outstanding. Park played only about 20 minutes, however we could see his sense, physical strength, and his potential, so we accepted Park instead of the player we thought. This scout aroused a lot of criticism in Sanga because Park was unknown, to the point that I should resign.[10]

In 2001, the club won the Division 2 title and were promoted to the first division. In 2002, Park led the team to the final of the Emperor's Cup, and in the final on 1 January 2003, he scored the equaliser with a header and assisted on Teruaki Kurobe's winning goal.[11] 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, he left Sanga as Guus Hiddink invited him 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.[12]

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 afforded Park more starting opportunities and he quickly proved his 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 his pace and passing.[13] Having been a top contributor of goals and assists that season, the highlight of Park's PSV career came when he scored the first goal against Italian team Milan in the Champions League semi-finals. PSV went on to win the home leg 3–1, but their 2–0 loss during the away leg meant Milan advanced to the final.[14]

Nevertheless, thanks to these strong performances, Park was chosen, along with Andriy Shevchenko, Adriano, Samuel Eto'o, and Ronaldinho as one of the nominees for the 2005 UEFA Best Forward award.[15] PSV fans were so enamoured with Park that they wrote a song about him entitled "Song for Park", which was included on the official PSV album PSV Kampioen.[16]

Manchester United

Park during the Manchester derby on 10 February 2008

In the closing months of the 2004–05 season, Park chose to join Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United. Park signed for the Premier League side for £4 million,[17] subject to a medical and work permit.[18][19]

Park became the first Asian to ever captain Manchester United when he took the armband from Ryan Giggs as he replaced him during a Champions League home group match against Lille on 18 October 2005.[20][21] His first goal for Manchester United came on 20 December 2005, during a 3–1 win over Birmingham City in the League Cup fifth round.[22] On 5 February 2006, Park appeared to have scored his first Premier League goal, coming against Fulham in United's 4–2 victory at Old Trafford.[23] 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 his first official league goal, netting the second of a 2–0 home win over Arsenal.[24]

In April 2007, Park was sent to America for surgery on a recurring knee injury, putting an end to his season.[25] Although sidelined by injury for most of the season, he still played in enough matches to become the first South Korean player to win the Premier League.

On 1 March 2008, Park scored his first league goal of the 2007–08 season after returning from his long-term injury against Fulham. His lack of appearances had caused much controversy in South Korea,[26] but he proved his worth when he delivered an assist to Wayne Rooney in the Champions League quarter-final match against Roma. On 29 April 2008, Manchester United advanced to the Champions League Final after beating Barcelona. However, Park was excluded from the squad to face Chelsea in the final; manager Alex Ferguson later stated that leaving him out was one of the hardest decisions he had had to make throughout his managerial career.[27]

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 he also won the Man of the Match award.[28] On 13 December 2008, he made his 100th appearance for Manchester United, starting in the match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, the game ended 0–0.[29] Park was included in the 23-man squad for the FIFA Club World Cup held at the end of 2008. He 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 his first FA Cup goal in the 4–0 quarter-final win over Fulham at Craven Cottage, he latched onto a miss placed pass by Zoltán Gera eventually slotting it into the far corner for the fourth and final goal.[30] On 15 April 2009, Manchester United advanced to semi-finals of the Champions League by defeating 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".[31] Following this announcement, Park scored his second league goal of the season, and third overall, in a 2–0 away win against Middlesbrough.[32] On 5 May 2009, Park scored his first Champions League goal for Manchester United in the second leg of the semi-final against Arsenal at the Emirates. He 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 Champions League Final for the second year running.[33] Park became the first Asian player in history to play in a Champions League Final.[34]

On 14 September 2009, Park signed a three-year contract extension with United, keeping him at the club until 2012. Ferguson said during the summer that he was always confident a deal would be done with Park, whose wages are estimated to be about £65,000 a week.[35] On 31 January 2010, Park scored his first goal of the 2009–10 season, hitting United's third in a 3–1 win against Arsenal. His last goal also came against Arsenal at the Emirates in the same scoreline, coming in the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League, this was also the first time United had beaten Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League.[36] On 10 March 2010, Park scored his first European goal of the season which was also his first for United in Europe at Old Trafford, hitting the third in a 4–0 win over Milan. This was also his second goal against Milan in the Champions League.[37] On 21 March 2010, Park scored a crucial winner in the derby against Liverpool, turning in Darren Fletcher's right-wing cross with a diving header.[38] On 4 May 2010, Park committed himself to United by openly claiming he would like to spend the rest of career with them, saying "There is no reason to move to any other team."[39] On 9 May 2010, Park netted on the final day of the season, scoring a close-range diving header against Stoke City to wrap up a 4–0 win.

Park returned to the United team for the first time following the World Cup as he started against a League of Ireland XI in their final pre-season game on 4 August 2010. He marked this game with the first ever goal scored at the newly built Aviva Stadium, he then scored a second later on as United ended the game 7–1 winners.[40] On 22 September 2010, Park netted his first goal of the 2010–11 season as he scored United's fourth of a 5–2 away win against Scunthorpe United in the 3rd round of the League Cup.[41] He then netted in the next round of the League Cup, scoring United's second goal in a 3–2 home win over Wolves on 26 October 2010.[42] Park scored his 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.[43] On 27 November, Park scored United's second goal in a 7–1 home victory over Blackburn Rovers.[44] Park's performance's during November 2010 helped him gain the Player of the Month award from the club's website.[45] Park was then voted as United Player of the Month for December 2010, grabbing the award for the second month in a row.[46] On 13 December, Park netted the only goal of the match against Arsenal,[47] a looping header, his fourth goal in seven starts against them.[48] Park jetted off to captain South Korea in the 2011 Asian Cup and missed seven games for United after the turn of the year.[49] Upon his return the subsequent tournament, he was ruled out for one month due to an hamstring injury which occurred during training. He returned to action for the first time since Boxing Day on 2 April, playing 64 minutes of a 4–2 away win over West Ham United.[50] Park scored his first goal since the turn of the year when he scored the winning goal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg tie against Chelsea, ending in a 2–1 win (3–1 on aggregate).[51] He also scored a goal against Blackpool at the 20th minute and set up the second goal for Anderson at the last match of the season. Park played in another Champions League Final, against Barcelona in 2011, which United lost 3–1. During the USA tour Park scored on New England Revolutions winning 4-1. He also scored against Seattle Sounders in the tour winning 7-0. The last USA tour game Manchester united won 4-0. Park was named the man of the match after scoring a goal on the 45th minute right before half-time.

On 28 August 2011, Park scored the sixth goal in an 8–2 home win against Arsenal, shortly after coming on as a second half substitute. Park made his first start of the season in the Premier League in a 2-0 home win against Norwich City. Late on in the game he 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 with a neat side foot finish from Patrice Evra's cutback. He also won the penalty that wrapped up the win which Dimitar Berbatov scored to complete his hat-trick. In a 4th round FA Cup clash against Liverpool, Park scored an equalising goal with a low finish from a Rafael cross to make it 1-1, United did eventually go on to lose the tie late on.

On 5 February 2012, Park made his 200th appearance for Manchester United by coming on as a substitute in the 86th minute against Chelsea. He 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 time from the beginning of a match in a 2-1 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. On 30 April 2012, Park played in the Manchester derby, in a game that was widely perceived as crucial to Manchester United's title defence. Manchester United lost the game 0-1 and Manchester City went on to win the Premier League title.

Queens Park Rangers

Having received less first-team football in his last season at Manchester United, Park moved to Queens Park Rangers for an undisclosed fee on 9 July 2012, signing a two-year contract with the London club.[52] With the long-term suspension of club captain Joey Barton, Park was named as captain for the 2012–13 season. He made his debut in a 5–0 defeat at home to Swansea City on the opening day of the season on 18 August 2012.[53]

International career

Park began his international career for South Korea as a 19-year-old defensive midfielder and made his first appearance selection during 2000 Sydney 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 winger; since then, he 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 World Cup. During the group stages South Korea had won their first game against Poland[54] and drew against USA. In order to advance, they had to manage a draw at the least against favoured Portugal 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 his chest and beating Sérgio Conceição before volleying it through the legs of Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia and into the net with his left foot. His goal eliminated Portugal and advanced South Korea into the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time.[55]

2006 FIFA World Cup

Park's success in the World Cup continued into the 2006 tournament. He scored the equalising goal in the second Group G match against eventual finalists France[56] and was voted Man of the match.[56] Between these two World Cup Finals, his shirt number shifted from 21 to 7, and he played in every fixture.

2010 FIFA World Cup

On 11 October 2008, he captained South Korea for the first time in a friendly against Uzbekistan. Korea won 3–0. He was the skipper for the remainder of the qualification campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was top scorer, with 5 goals. One of his goals was against Iran in Seoul, beating 2 defenders then scored with his left foot. South Korea advanced to the finals without a single defeat. On 12 June 2010, Park netted in his third consecutive World Cup, scoring the second goal in South Korea's 2–0 win over Greece in their first group match.[57] He 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.[58]

2011 AFC Asian Cup

Park's father, Park Sung-jong, said his son has planned to end his national team career after the 2011 Asian Cup tournament in Qatar.[59] Park traveled to the tournament on 26 December 2010 as squad captain.[49] Park made his 100th international appearance in the semi-final match against Japan on 25 January 2011.[60] However, it wouldn't end in victory as they lost 3–0 during the penalty shootout following 2–2 after extra time.[61] South Korea coach Cho Kwang-Rae confirmed on 28 January that Park had retired from international duty as he was left out of their 3–2 third place play-off victory over Uzbekistan.[62] Park was nominated as the tournament's MVP alongside Mark Schwarzer, Keisuke Honda and Server Djeparov.[63] The award was eventually won by Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda.[64] On 31 January, Park confirmed his retirement from international football to make way for younger players with "enormous potential".[65]

International goals

Scores and results list South Korea's goal tally first.
Updated to games played 12 June 2010.[66]

Style of play

Park received much acclaim at Manchester United for his work rate and energy which saw him deployed all over the midfield, including in the middle of the pitch and on both wings, where he operates as a "defensive winger".[67] He 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.[68]

Career statistics


ClubSeasonLeagueCupLeague CupContinentalOther[nb 1]Total
Kyoto Purple Sanga20001311020161
PSV Eindhoven2002–038000000080
Manchester United[69]2005–06341203160452
Queens Park Rangers2012–1340001050
Career total278432451536555038756

Statistics accurate as of match played 15 September 2012


National teamYearFriendlyCompetitiveTotal
South Korea U231999414081
South Korea20007180151

Statistics correct as of matches played 25 January 2011[66][70]



Kyoto Purple Sanga
PSV Eindhoven
Manchester United


See also


  1. ^ Includes other competitive competitions, including the Johan Cruijff-schaal, FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and FIFA Club World Cup


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  66. ^ a b "Ji-Sung Park – Century of International Appearances". (Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation). 14 March 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  67. ^ Wilson, Jonathan (4 June 2009). "The Question: Are defensive forwards the future?". London: The Guardian. 
  68. ^ Cox, Michael. "Tactics: Manchester United use wingers to great effect". ITV. 
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Further reading

External links