With his transfer to Queens Park Rangers, we pay tribute to one of the ‘Big game’ players, Park Ji Sung. Park has been nothing short of a success for United. He consistently rose to the occasion and delivered brilliantly, doing justice to Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection.
Timeline of Ji Sung Park’s Old Trafford Career:
Signed for Manchester United for a fee of around £4 million after two impressive seasons with PSV Eindhoven, in the process, becoming the first Korean player to play for Manchester United. He made his debut for United as a substitute in Champions league group stage fixture against LOSC Lille. He also won his first of many trophies in United colors when he lifted the Carling cup in 2006. Scored his first goal for United against Arsenal.
After one season of blending in, started to sparkle alongside the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney and gave impressive team performances. However, suffered a recurring injury to the knee, which forced him to end the season. He became the first ever Korean player to have a Premier league winner’s medal to his name.
Came back strong from injury and gave impressive performances in Champions league, especially against Roma and Barcelona in the quarters and semifinals respectively. Unfortunately couldn’t secure a place in the team for the Champions league finals against Chelsea. Ended the season with a Premier league and a Champions league medal.
Started the season strongly with a man of the match display against Chelsea. He made his 100th appearance for United against Tottenham Hotspurs. He was part of the United squad that won the FIFA Club Football Worldcup in 2008, playing the entire 90 minutes of the final against LDO Quito. Park won the Carling cup after a hiatus of three years when United won against Tottenham Hotspurs through a penalty shootout. Park scored the opening goal against Arsenal in the return leg of the historic semifinals of Champions league which United won 4-1 on aggregate. He also started the Champions league finals but couldn’t help but watch his side getting schooled by Barcelona.
Signed a three year contract to his existing deal on September 2009. Park Ji Sung was yet again the thorn against Arsenal when he scored in a 3-1 win at the Emirates. He scored his first European goal in a 4-0 annihilation of AC Milan at Old Trafford. Won the Carling cup for the third time running after his side defeated Aston Villa. Scored the crucial winning goal against Liverpool in a 2-1 win that helped United to keep in track of eventual winners Chelsea. Finished the season with a goal in the 4-0 rout of Stoke City.
Netted his first goal of the season in a 5-2 win against Scunthorpe United. Scored the winning goal in injury time against Wolverhampton Wanderers after an insipid display from United. As a testament to his performances, he was voted as the United’s player of the month during October and November. He cemented his status as a “big game” player when he scored the winning goal against Arsenal. The second European goal of his United career effectively eliminated Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals. He was in the receiving end of a 3-1 defeat in the hands of Barcelona in the Champions league finals.
Park yet again scored in the 8-2 destruction of Arsenal when he came on as a substitute. He scored the equalizing goal against Liverpool in the FA cup 4th round tie, though United went on to lose the tie. Lost his spot in the team with the likes of Nani, Young and Valencia returning to the squad after injuries. He made his 200th appearance for the club against Chelsea. Played the crucial Manchester Derby but couldn’t live up to his “big game player” status as United lost 1-0, effectively handing over the title to ManchesterCity.
Park Ji Sung was an Old Trafford fan favourite. He was one of the most hardworking players and always gave his 100% for the team. Age has been slowly catching up on him and perhaps, it is time to move on. You gave us everything a player can give to his team. You will be missed Ji. Thanks for the memories.