SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean Park Ji-sung announced his retirement from soccer on Wednesday, bringing the curtain down on a career that took him to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and saw him become the first Asian to play in a UEFA Champions League final.
Park’s industry, energy and work ethic made him a favourite of Alex Ferguson during his time at Manchester United and his performances in England and in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven helped raise the profile of Korean soccer around the world.
The 33-year-old, who called time on his international career after the 2011 Asian Cup, said he could not continue to play at the highest level because of knee issues but added that he was leaving the game without any regrets.
“I didn’t cry about it yesterday, and I‘m not crying about it today, that means I‘m leaving with no regrets,” he told a news conference at the Park Ji-sung Football Centre in Suwon, where he has a street named after him.
“I enjoyed playing football. I have achieved more than I have thought I would. I‘m truly grateful for all the support I have received and I will live the rest of my life thinking how I can pay it back.”
After leaving Manchester United in 2012, Park signed for Queen’s Park Rangers but spent the last season on loan at PSV.
Issues with his knee sidelined him for long spells over the last two years.
Reporting by Narae Kim; Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Greg Stutchbury