He may not be the world’s flashiest player, but Park Ji-sung can claim to be the first superstar of Asian football. Born in Seoul in 1981, he signed for Japanese club Kyoto Purple Sanga as a 19-year-old, but his career really took off two years later.
He was part of the South Korea squad that finished fourth in the World Cup on home soil. And when national manager Guus Hiddink took over at PSV Eindhoven, the midfielder followed soon after. Two successful seasons in the Netherlands later, he was on the move again… to Manchester United, for £4m. In 2008 he became captain of South Korea, and now at the age of 31 comes a new challenge, after his transfer to Queens Park Rangers.
Korea’s answer to David Beckham remains something of an enigma, and that’s how he likes it. Park Ji-sung is a national icon, but he’s also a player’s player. His powers may be starting to wane, but his commitment never will…he offers rather more than guaranteed sales of replica shirts.