Monday, August 26, 2013

Park Ji Sung makes triumphant return to PSV Eindhoven

The 2012-13 season was probably the low point of Park Ji Sung's decorated career. He moved from Manchester United to Queens Park Rangers, a team that on paper looked to be on the rise with a lot of new signings and a new high profile manager in Mark Hughes. Park even got the honour of being named captain, which was the first for an Asian player in the Premier League.

Well, the season was kind of a monstrous (and expensive) disaster and QPR ended up being relegated. Having seemingly lost his motor and energy, old "Three Lung" appeared to be washed up and it looked as though his European career was over. Perhaps a cash-motivated stint in the Middle East was in order before he would quietly retire.

Then he got loaned out to his old club, PSV Eindhoven. For those of you who don't know, PSV was where Park began his European career shortly after he impressed at the 2002 World Cup. He and Lee Young Pyo were the two Korean players that Guus Hiddink took with him to PSV. Lee Young Pyo had a fine European career himself, enjoying stints at clubs such as Tottenham and Dortmund, but Park was by far the more successful player with multiple Premier League titles, a Champions League medal, and cult hero status at Old Trafford. But before all that, it was at PSV where Park made a name for himself and proved that a Korean player could make an impact in the modern European game.

Park's most famous goal at PSV, scored against AC Milan in the Champions League semi-finals in 2005

And on Saturday, Park was able to turn back time and pick up right where he left off at PSV, scoring a late game equalizer against Heracles Almelo in a Dutch league match.

So after a rough year, it looks like everything is going Park's way: he's back at his old favourite club, he's scoring goals, and he even has a new girlfriend.

Cute couple: Park Ji Sung's girlfriend, the TV announcer Kim Min Ji

As for how the other Korean players in Europe are doing, Kim Bo Kyung played a big part in propelling newly-promoted Cardiff City pull off a huge upset of Manchester City this weekend. Son Heung Min has gotten off to a fine start at his new club, Bayer Leverkusen, and has a goal already. Koo Ja Cheol is back at Wolfsburg after spending two great seasons at Augsburg, and he is doing well. Ji Dong Won is unfortunately still stuck in go-nowhere Sunderland despite a great half-season loan spell at Augsburg last season, but hopefully he can recapture his form and impress his new manager, Paolo di Canio. Park Joo Ho moved up from the Swiss League to the Bundesliga with his new club FSV Mainz. He has started all 3 matches and his team is in 4th place right now.

Not all news is great though. Ki Sung Yueng is in a bizarre situation at Swansea right now and looks to be on the verge of a loan. This is very strange because he was signed for a record fee last season and did very well since coming over. And the very talented Lee Chung Yong is still mired in the Championship with Bolton, the team with no luck (they just lost Stuart Holden again to a serious injury). This guy deserves to play at the highest level, so somebody pick him up!

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