Before there was Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, Kim Min-jae, and Lee Kang-in, there was Manchester United’s Park Ji-sung.
John Obi Mikel, a former Chelsea midfielder, appeared on legendary United defender Rio Ferdinand’s podcast, “Rio Ferdinand Presents Five,” on Sept. 17 and named Park as one of the most difficult players to stop during his career.레모나토토 도메인
“There’s a player called Park Ji-sung. He never gets tired,” he said, adding, “Chelsea had to watch out for him every time they played. He’s always running, whether he’s got the ball or not.” Park’s jersey was one of the most difficult to stop.
Park’s local nickname is ‘Three-lung Park’. This is because he runs around tirelessly as if he has three lungs, constantly pressuring opponents, moving around and creating space for his teammates.
His work ethic helped United, who at the time were one of the top teams in England and Europe. Park has left his mark on the history of Asian soccer, winning four league titles with United, three League Cups, and becoming the first Asian player to win the UEFA Champions League.
In the 2007/08 season, when he lifted the ‘big one’ (Champions League trophy), he met Spanish giants Barcelona in the quarterfinals and played in both the first and second legs, helping United defeat Barcelona and later Chelsea to return to the top of the Champions League for the first time in nine years.
Although he suffered the shock of being left out of the squad for the final, he was instrumental in the win by shutting down Barcelona forward Lionel Messi in the semifinals.
Former United midfielder Darren Fletcher said of Park, “He’s a player who thrives on big games” and “he’s always played with a lot of confidence”.
He also famously wiped AC Milan midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo off the pitch. In the 2009/10 Champions League round of 16, AC Milan tried to dominate the game with Pirlo, the greatest playmaker of his era. However, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson ordered Park Ji-sung to stop Pirlo, and Park Ji-sung spent the entire first and second periods looking only at Pirlo and pressuring him, completely cutting off Milan’s offensive line.
It was the only time that Pirlo and Park went head-to-head, but it left a lasting impression on Pirlo. Pirlo later named Park as the most frustrating player to play against in a 2018 interview, and later praised England’s Calvin Phillips in 2021, saying, “If you want to stop him, you have to bring Park, thank God (he’s retired).”
Along with Park, Mikel also cited striker Wayne Rooney as a difficult player to play against. “He’s a technically perfect player,” he said of Rooney, adding, “You can’t drop the ball with him.”
Mikel, who announced his retirement from football in 2021, has been making television appearances and living the life of a wild man. After retiring from Queens Park Rangers in 2014, Park returned to South Korea to work as a football administrator as the technical director of the K League’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.