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Park Ji-Sung (Hangul: 박지성; Hanja:朴智星; ; born 25 February 1981) is a South Koreanmarker professional footballer who plays for the Englishmarker club Manchester United and is the captain of the South Korean national team. He is the only Korean player to win the UEFA Champions League and the first Asian to play in a final of the tournament.

Park began his football career in his native South Korea and played for the Myongji University team before moving to Japanmarker to play for Kyoto Purple Sanga. After Park's national team manager Guus Hiddink moved back to the Netherlandsmarker 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. Since then, Park has played in three consecutive Premier League-winning Manchester United teams and has also won the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.

As a member of the South Korean national team, Park has won 84 caps and scored 11 goals, and was a member of the team that finished fourth at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.


Early career

Although he was born in the South Korean capital, Seoulmarker, Park grew up in Suwonmarker, a satellite city south of Seoul. While in high school, Park was rejected by a number of professional clubs, due to his small stature. He ended up playing for Myongji University after his high school coach strongly recommended him to the university coach. In 2000, after just a year at Myongji University, Kyoto Purple Sanga of Japanmarker offered Park a contract and he took up the offer.

Kyoto Purple Sanga

Park signed with the Japanese club who had just been relegated to J2. In 2001 the club won the Division 2 championships and were promoted to the first division. In 2002, Park led the team into the finals of the Emperor's Cup, and scored the equaliser with a header and assisted Teruaki Kurobe's winning goal in the final match.. 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. He left Sanga following the World Cup and Sanga's failure to avoid relegation to J2.

PSV Eindhoven

After the World Cup, Guus Hiddink was appointed the manager of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. In 2003, Park and South Korean teammate Lee Young-Pyo moved to PSV Eindhoven, 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 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. 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 at 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 Champions League Final.Demonstrating the sheer scale of his hero status at the club, PSV fans even wrote a song for Park for his contributions during his time with the club. Titled "Song for Park", it was included in the PSV official album "PSV Kampioen", and repeats "Ji-Sung Park" in Dutch pronunciation the whole time.

Manchester United

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, subject to a medical and work permit.

Park became the first Asian to ever captain Manchester United when Ryan Giggs passed the armband to Park as he was being substituted in a European home game against Lille OSC. 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. His first goal in the Premier League appeared to have been against Fulham on 5 February 2006, in Manchester United's 4–2 victory at Old Traffordmarker. 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. Park's first official league goal came against Arsenal on 9 April, in Manchester United's 2-0 victory at Old Trafford.

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

On 1 March 2008, Park scored his first Premiership goal of the 2007-08 season after returning from his long-term injury against Fulham. His lack of appearances had caused much controversy in Korea, 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. Park was voted man of the match. On 21 May, it came as a huge surprise to many that Park was excluded completely from the squad to face Chelsea in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. Many believed that Park's performances against Roma and Barcelona had earned him a place in the starting line-up for the final. With that omission, Park failed to become the first footballer from Asia to play in a Champions League final, as had widely been anticipated in South Korea. Later, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson stated that leaving the South Korean winger out from the 18-man squad for the Champions League final was one of the hardest decisions he had to make all throughout his 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 he also won the Man of the Match award. On 13 December 2008, he made his 100th appearance for Manchester United, starting in the match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lanemarker, the game ended 0-0. 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 Cottagemarker, he latched onto a miss placed pass by Zoltan 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 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, he stated “I have no reason to move. I play at the best club in the world.” Following this announcement Park scored his second league goal of the season, and third overall, in a 2-0 away win against Middlesbrough. 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 Emiratesmarker. 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. Park became the first Asian player in history to play in a Champions League Final, however it would not end in victory as Barcelona were crowned European champions winning 2-0.

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.

International career

Park began his international career as a 19-year-old defensive midfielder. Park made his first appearance selection during 2000 Sydney Olympics U-23 regional qualifier. Park was on 2000 Sydney Olympic roster along with Lee Chun-Soo, and Lee Dong-Gook. Selected by then manager, Huh Jung-Moo, he was unable to improve or show potential as a future regular for Korean national team. However, when Guus Hiddink became the head coach of South Korea, Park's position was shifted to that of a winger. Since then, Park has become a versatile player able to play in a variety of positions: central, right and left midfield, as well as wing-forward.

Park scored a memorable goal during the 2002 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 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.

Park's success in the World Cup continued into the 2006 tournament. He scored the equalising goal in the 2nd Group G Match against eventual finalists France in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and was voted Man of the match. Between these two World Cup Finals, his shirt number shifted from 21 to 7, and he played in every match for South Korea.

On 11 October 2008, he captained South Korea for the first time in a friendly match against Uzbekistan. Korea went on to win 3-0. Since then he has been the skipper for the remainder of the AFC qualification campaign for 2010 FIFA World Cup and was the top scorer of his team with 5 goals where one of his goals was scored against Iran in Seoul, beating 2 defenders then scored with his left foot, as South Korea advanced to the finals without a single defeat.

Career statistics

Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Kyoto Purple Sanga 2000 13 1 1 0 2 0 16 1
2001 38 3 1 0 1 0 40 3
2002 25 7 4 1 0 0 29 8
Total 76 11 6 1 3 0 85 12
PSV Eindhoven 2002–03 8 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
2003–04 28 6 1 0 10 0 39 6
2004–05 28 7 3 2 13 2 44 11
Total 64 13 4 2 23 2 91 17
Manchester United 2005–06 34 1 2 0 3 1 6 0 0 0 45 2
2006–07 14 5 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 20 5
2007–08 12 1 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 18 1
2008–09 25 2 3 1 1 0 9 1 2 0 40 4
2009–10 3 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 7 0
Total 88 9 12 1 5 1 22 1 3 0 130 12
Career total 228 33 22 4 8 1 45 3 3 0 306 41

Statistics accurate as of match played 01 December 2009

International goals

Scores and results list Korea Republic's goal tally first.

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 7 June 2000 Tehranmarker, Iranmarker 2–0 2–1 Friendly match
2 21 May 2002 Seogwipomarker, Republic of Koreamarker 1–1 1–1 Friendly match
3 26 May 2002 Suwonmarker, Republic of Koreamarker 1–1 2–3 Friendly match
4 14 June 2002 Incheonmarker, Republic of Koreamarker 1–0 1–0 2002 FIFA World Cup
5 8 June 2005 Kuwait Citymarker, Kuwaitmarker 4–0 4–0 2006 FIFA World Cup Qual.
6 18 June 2006 Leipzigmarker, Germanymarker 1–1 1–1 2006 FIFA World Cup
7 6 February 2008 Seoulmarker, Republic of Koreamarker 3–0 4–0 2010 FIFA World Cup Qual.
8 31 May 2008 Seoulmarker, Republic of Koreamarker 1–0 2–2 2010 FIFA World Cup Qual.
9 15 October 2008 Seoulmarker, Republic of Koreamarker 2–0 4–1 2010 FIFA World Cup Qual.
10 11 February 2009 Tehranmarker, Iranmarker 1–1 1–1 2010 FIFA World Cup Qual.
11 17 June 2009 Seoulmarker, South Koreamarker 1–1 1–1 2010 FIFA World Cup Qual.



Kyoto Purple Sanga

PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United


See also


  1. Park, 2006, p. 213; "I failed to have good condition after the 6 weeks of injury, I felt teammates started not to trust me anymore."
  2. {{cite web|url={B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=422767 |title=Park: Cartilage op confirmed |accessdate=2007-04-27|}}
  3. Includes other competitive competitions, including the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, FIFA Club World Cup

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