He never stopped running and showed tireless work rate, but it was not good enough to stop the world’s best player, Lionel Messi.
Park Ji-sung of Manchester United played the full 90 minutes in a 3-1 loss to Spanish giant Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley on Saturday, ending the 2010-2011 season with mixed feelings.
The former Korean captain was determined to make up for the pain of the 2009 final, where the team lost 2-0 to the Catalan side in Rome. However, he again fell victim to Messi’s incomparable performance and the Spanish side’s formidable brand of football.
Still, Park is the only Asian player to have been featured in the Saturday night clash and this means a lot to him.
Furthermore, despite the result, Park proved why manger Alex Ferguson described him as a “big-game player,” showing great determination on the pitch.
This season, the 30-year-old midfielder, played a major part for Manchester United by helping the team advancing to the final and also lifting their 19th league title. He has scored eight goals in all competition this season.
Now, the 2010-2011 season is officially over, and like most European players Park will be taking a long summer break.
Park’s contract lasts until the 2012 season, but all other key players have already extended their contracts for the next two or three years.
Manchester United is now looking to strengthen their squad during the summer transfer window. They need to fill the void left by goalkeeper Van der Sar and defender Neville, who have announced their retirements. Also, they have to find a successor of 37-year-old midfielder Giggs.
Park, who retired from the national team in order to focus on his club duty, seems now at his peak, and it is quite unlikely that the manager would risk transferring him to another team. But now there remains the question of how long he will play at Old Trafford. Ferguson has made no comments yet about Park’s future.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org