Park Ji-sung retires: Former Manchester United midfielder calls time on career

South Korea enjoyed seven years at Old Trafford

South Korean Park Ji-sung announced his retirement from soccer on Wednesday, bringing the curtain down on a career that took him to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and saw him become the first Asian to play in a UEFA Champions League final.

Park's industry, energy and work ethic made him a favourite of Alex Ferguson during his time at Manchester United and his performances in England and with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven helped raise the profile of Korean soccer around the world.

The 33-year-old, who called time on his international career after the 2011 Asian Cup, said he could not continue to play at the highest level because of knee issues but 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."

After leaving Manchester United in 2012, Park signed for Queen's Park Rangers but spent the last season on loan at PSV. Issues with his knee sidelined him for long spells over the last two years.

"I thought about getting an operation but even if I did it wouldn't mean the injury would be gone completely. Naturally, retirement was the option," he added.

Park grabbed the spotlight at the 2002 World Cup finals, which were co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.

Under the tutelage of Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, the shaggy-haired midfielder flourished on the game's biggest stage, scoring the winning goal against Portugal to seal Korea's place in the knockout stages for the first time.

After the World Cup, Hiddink was appointed manager of PSV and brought Park with him, where, after a tough start, he won over the fans and caught the eye of then Manchester United manager Ferguson.

Park, described by Ferguson as the "ultimate professional", spent seven seasons at United, winning four Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008, though he was surprisingly omitted from the squad for the final.

In 2009, he became the first Asian to play in the Champions League final when he started in United's 2-0 loss to Barcelona.

"The proudest moment for me was of course the 2002 World Cup," said Park, flanked by his father and his mother, who was in tears throughout the news conference.

"The most influential figure in my life is Guus Hiddink. He took me abroad after the World Cup and that was the turning point of my life.

"Ferguson also helped me play at the world's top level... the coaches I've spent time with are definitely my great asset."

Park gave himself a "seven out of 10" for his career and said he would pull on the PSV uniform for the last time on May 28 when the Dutch side visit Korea to play in a charity match as a tribute to the victims of the recent ferry disaster.

Park said if he had to choose only one team to play for it would be the national side.

"I would choose to wear the national team uniform because it was my lifetime dream to wear it."

REUTERS

Suggested Topics
News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices