Park - I never wanted to move

Korean star denies he is a commercial ploy

Park: United belief

Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung says the disappointment of missing out on the 2008 UEFA Champions League final made him more determined to be a success at Old Trafford.

Park was overlooked for the penalty shoot-out triumph over Chelsea in Moscow and was left sitting in the stands as his colleagues claimed United's third European crown.

The South Korea star admitted he found it difficult to be left out of the showpiece event, and after often been used as a squad player by Sir Alex Ferguson, the prospect of the 29-year-old leaving Manchester was a real one.

But the former PSV Eindhoven man said his desire to become a success at one of the world's biggest clubs remained - meaning he decided to stay patient and wait for another European final opportunity to come round.


"That night was a big disappointment for me," he said. "I didn't want to leave because I felt I could do more to make it at United. That is why I stayed.

"I felt it would eventually happen and I believed we would reach another Champions League final, I just didn't expect it to be the following year."

Park arrived at United in 2005 following a £4million move from Guus Hiddink's Dutch side but found regular first team football difficult to come by.

It led some critics to suggest the South Korean - worshipped in his home country - was brought to the club simply for the commercial benefits enjoyed by Premier League clubs in the Far East.

United have made two highly successful trips to Seoul since Park joined the club and have certainly earned more in revenue from the ventures than the fee paid to Hiddink for his services.

Park, capped 59 times by his country, refutes such suggestions and says he made the move from his home land to the Netherlands in 2003 to progress his career.

He added: "I didn't get a sense of just being signed for commercial reasons. I wanted to show that Asian players could make it in Europe.

"But it was far more important for me just to become a better player. That is why I came to Europe from Asia. I do not think of myself as a standard bearer for Asian players.

"I just try to work hard for myself. Once I became more famous I was proud that people in Asia started to look towards me.

"All the Asian people respect me and watch me. But I don't want people to think of me as an Asian player. I am just a football player."


Park has gradually begun to feature more prominently in Ferguson's team selection, a testament to the development of the attacking midfielder since his arrival on English shores.

Wayne Rooney's role as a lone striker this season has afforded Park the opportunity to show what he can do on the flanks while his England team-mate fires in the goals.

But Park concedes the prospect of failing at United played heavily on him - although he now feels more assured in his own ability to contribute to the club's charge for a treble-winning season.

"I feel better about being at Manchester United," he said. "When I first came I was a little bit worried that I would not be a success. But that always happens.

"You never know you are going to succeed until you have. What I was going to do at the time was more important. I just tried to do my best and once I started training I totally forgot about my concerns.

"Now I feel quite confident. Mentally I am in a good place. The fans have also been supporting me. It makes me more assured about showing my ability on the pitch."