Sport

No one kept Andrea Pirlo quite like Ji-sung Park: Manchester United boss hails ‘fantastic and loved’ team player

By Dean Wilkins

As QPR prepare to take on Manchester United this weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson is hailing his former Mr Reliable Ji-sung Park – who will always be remembered for getting his hands dirty against the biggest teams.

The South Korea ace had seven years at Old Trafford before moving to the West London club this summer – but his legacy in the dressing room lives on.

Fergie’s fondness for including the tenacious midfielder in the big games was one that regularly paid off, as the manager recalled the night when he silenced Italian mastermind Andrea Pirlo.

“The great thing about Ji-sung Park is he’s one of the best professionals we’ve had here,” Sir Alex told manutd.com.

“He was truly fantastic, and particularly in big games. I loved playing him in the big games. His record against Arsenal, for instance, was fantastic.

“The Milan games over there and at Old Trafford, when I asked Park to play directly against Pirlo, are memorable. He never gave Pirlo a kick and he kept running off him which was brilliant too.”

Renowned for his dedication to the job in hand, Park rarely stole the headlines but scooped 11 trophies during one of the club’s most successful eras.

And it’s a quality that has cemented his place in both Fergie’s and fans’ hearts.

“Park had roles that only a disciplined and selfless player could have,” the Scot added. “That’s exactly what Ji-sung was, selfless.

“He played for the team and whatever role you gave him, he would stick to that role. So he was a really wonderful, disciplined professional for us.”

Under-pressure Mark Hughes returns to Old Trafford with rock bottom QPR who are still hunting their first win in 13 league games.

Park will be forced to watch from the sidelines through injury and will be joined by United loanee Fabio da Silva, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Fabio’s loan move to QPR was intended to give him invaluable top-flight experience while first-choice leftback Patrice Evra held onto his place in the first-team.

But since his departure, his twin brother Rafael has stormed out of the blocks – earning his place as the player to beat to the rightback position.

“Ability wise, there’s very little between the two,” added Sir Alex. “But Rafael’s got more experience now because he’s played more games for us.

“Fabio’s had quite a long list of injuries during his time here but I think in a couple of years’ time, once he matures, he’ll be fine.”

Picture courtesy of The Sport Review

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