Park Ji-Sung retires: Why Andrea Pirlo will be pleased he no longer has to play against the 'nuclear-powered South Korean'

Pirlo met his match against Park, who 'had the speed of an electron'

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The Independent Football

Park Ji-sung announced his decision to retire from football today, creating despair across South Korea, but in one pocket of Italy, there will be one very happy man indeed.

Andrea Pirlo admitted in his recent autobiography, 'I Think Therefore I Play', that Park was the one player that he could not get the better of.

The great Italian playmaker never enjoyed playing against the energetic midfielder, who was always deployed to man-mark him in matches for both PSV and Manchester United in the Champions League. Park was essentially Pirlo's krypotonite.

Pirlo wrote of Park:

"Even [Sir Alex] Ferguson, the purple-nosed manager who turned Manchester United into a fearsome battleship, couldn’t resist the temptation. He’s essentially a man without blemish, but he ruined that purity just for a moment when it came to me. A fleeting shabbiness came over the legend that night. On one of the many occasions when our paths crossed during my time at Milan, he unleashed Park Ji-sung to shadow me. The midfielder must have been the first nuclear-powered South Korean in history, in the sense that he rushed about the pitch at the speed of an electron."

Park wins the ball from Milan's Pirlo for PSV in 2005

Pirlo gets disposed again. This time in a Uefa Celebration XI match in 2007

Park gets his head on the ball first against Milan's Pirlo in Feb 2010


Pirlo is challenged by Park in the second leg in March 2010

The former United and Queens Park Rangers midfielder Park, 33, said he could not continue to play at the highest level because of knee issues and added that he was leaving the game without any regrets.

"I didn't cry about it yesterday, and I'm not crying about it today, that means I'm leaving with no regrets," he told a news conference at the Park Ji-sung Football Centre in Suwon, where he has a street named after him.

"I enjoyed playing football. I have achieved more than I have thought I would. I'm truly grateful for all the support I have received and I will live the rest of my life thinking how I can pay it back."