Park Ji-sung man-marked Andrea Pirlo for 180 minutes during Man Utd vs AC Milan

Park Ji-sung man-marked Andrea Pirlo

Manchester United have a huge Champions League clash this week.

Ole Gunnar Solskjar’s side host Atalanta in their group after one win and one defeat from their opening two matches.

They currently sit third in their group but are only one point behind Wednesday’s opponents, who currently lead the group.



It’s a huge clash at Old Trafford on Wednesday then.

How Solskjaer must wish he could call upon some of United’s former players to get him out of this current sticky situation after the weekend’s loss to Leicester.

While many United fans got their wish with the club bringing back former hero Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer, there’s another former player who would have been perfect on an occasion like Wednesday.

We’re talking about Park Ji-sung.


He may have been underrated by many football fans but he was a pivotal part of Manchester United’s success between 2005-2012 under Sir Alex Ferguson. He didn’t register loads of assists or score many goals, but Park played an important role at Old Trafford.

And there’s no finer example than during the two-legged victory over AC Milan during the 2009/10 Champions League campaign.

Before the first leg at the San Siro, Ferguson reportedly told Park: “Your job today is not about touching the ball, it’s not about making passes, your job is Pirlo. That’s all: Pirlo.”

It worked a treat as Park didn’t leave Pirlo’s sight during United’s 3-2 victory. 

In fact, it worked so well that he was given the same task back at Old Trafford. Park was all over Pirlo like a rash as his side triumphed to a 4-0 victory.

180 minutes of Park pocketing Pirlo. Beautiful.

What did Pirlo think of Ferguson’s tactics?

Well, in his autobiography ‘Penso Quindi Gioco (I Think Therefore I Play)?’ the legendary Italian midfielder wrote: “[Sir Alex] is a man without blemish, but he ruined that purity just for a moment when it came to me.

“A fleeting shabbiness came over the legend that night. At Milan, he unleashed Park Ji-Sung to shadow me.

“[Park] rushed about at the speed of an electron. He’d fling himself at me, his hands all over my back, trying to intimidate me.

“He’d look at the ball and not know what it was for. They’d programmed him to stop me. His devotion to the task was almost touching. Even though he was a famous player, he consented to being used as a guard dog.”

Pirlo on Park

Years later, Rio Ferdinand fondly recalled the performance of his teammate during those two matches.

“I remember we played against Milan in Milan and Pirlo was at the centre of everything that they done,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport.

“The manager played Ji-sung Park on him, it was a man-marking job, and I’m sure Pirlo woke up the next morning, looked at the bottom of his bed and expected to see Ji-sung Park there.

“He was that good.

“Whatever the manager set out for him to do, whether it was to defend against somebody, stop someone playing or go in there and make a difference in the opposing team’s box, he’d carry that out.”

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