And the Oscar goes to Park
Park, as John Lennon would have so brilliantly put it, is a "Working Class Hero" and his attitude won United fans over since he joined from PSV in 2005 for as little as £4 million, while his lung-bursting runs earned him the nickname "Three Lungs Park".
July 15th, 2012
At the Academy Awards, the Oscar for the Best Actor is always the most coveted, no matter what.
The other awards are just as important, a well deserved reward for years of hard work or for a particularly brilliant performance, but the Oscar for Best Actor will always steal the show as the winner becomes etched in both the history books and in the minds of thousands of fans.
A football team, though, much like a successful movie, needs a supporting cast to allow its stars to deliver performances worth of an Oscar.
Ji-Sung Park excelled in his supporting cast role during his seven-year spell at Old Trafford and many United fans will be sad to see the back of the diminutive Korean after he was officially unveiled as a QPR player.
While he’s never possessed the skills (nor the abhorring attitude for that matter) of a world class star, the South Korean international epitomises the sort of players that is every manager’s dream – reliable, versatile and, above all, hard-working and without an ego bigger than the club itself.
Park, as John Lennon would have so brilliantly put it, is a “Working Class Hero” and his attitude won United fans over since he joined from PSV in 2005 for as little as £4 million, while his lung-bursting runs earned him the nickname “Three Lungs Park”.
The media that (too) quickly dismissed him as a signing to boast United’s already high profile in the Far East were soon eating their words, as the former South Korea captain rapidly grew into becoming Alex Ferguson’s man for the big occasions, as his seemingly infinite energies allowed Park to hassle and chase opponent players up and down the pitch.
Park was an important figure in the United Double-winning side of 2007-08 and his exclusion from the 23 that took part in the Moscow final was described by Ferguson as “one of the hardest choice of my career”.
The most decorated player in Asian football got his chance a year later as United lost in Rome against Barcelona, after Park had opened the scoring in the second leg of the semifinal against Arsenal, in a season in which he registered 40 appearances.
Any other player appearing so often for his club would have felt the need to command bigger wage, but the Korean was always happy to put the team’s interest ahead of his own, an element not lost with the Old Trafford faithful that serenade him, turning Park’s homeland eating habits into an opportunity to mock Liverpool.
Injuries and a lack of form, blighted Park’s last two seasons at Old Trafford, and a few United fans grew bored of the Korean wayward finishing, and his exit was, perhaps like many other ex-United players, inevitable.
Following last year’s heartbreaking finale to the season, United will have to rebuild and it is perhaps financially sound to secure a fee, albeit a small one, for a player approaching his 32nd birthday and whose fitness is pivotal to his playing style, but United will miss Park. If not on the pitch, then most certainly off it.
QPR, on the other hand, have gained a true professional, perhaps not the exciting player that fans of the Loftus Road club wished for, but definitely the sort of role model that is a dying breed in modern football, even though he doesn’t take to Twitter to elaborate on his feelings about Freud and The Smiths.
Stars win Oscars, but football, after all, is a team game.
Written by Ian Rimmer.