|© UNICEF UK/2006/Peters|
|Ji-sung Park is the first South Korean ever to play in the English league.|
One of the most promising and versatile young midfielders in all of Europe, Ji-sung Park, South Korea’s most popular player, is joining up with UNICEF and FIFA for this year’s 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Born in Seoul, South Korea in 1981, Mr. Park always planned to become a physical education teacher. But his athletic potential was strong, and he made the giant leap from high school to the pros at the age of 18, joining Kyoto Purple Sanga. He was the first Korean footballer ever to go straight to the J-League from high-school. His versatility, speed, endless endurance and masterful accuracy of the free kick made him the most influential player on the team.
In 2002, Mr. Park gained international notoriety by scoring goals against England and France during international friendlies before that year’s World Cup. During the World Cup, he bagged the game-winning goal in South Korea's group match against Portugal.
Shining among the best
With his prominent play in international competition, Europe came calling. Much to the dismay of South Korean football fans, Mr. Park made the jump from Asia to Europe, joining the Dutch squad – PSV Eindhoven.
On PSV Eindhoven, he flourished into one of the game’s most multi-talented players, demonstrating the unique ability to deftly play various positions on the field, from wing-back to central midfield to side midfield, his most common domain. After struggling through some injuries early on in his career with PSV Eindhoven, Mr. Park played an integral role in leading the Dutchmen to the league championship and the cup Double in 2005.
After a thrilling score against AC Milan in a bitterly fought loss in the Champions League semi-final that year, the rising star from Seoul caught the eye of the Premiership and was recruited to play for Manchester United, making him one of the first South Koreans to play in the English league.
Adapting to the Premier League, Mr. Park has already shown his ability to shine among the best in football.