Cult Heroes - How sheer determination made Park Ji-Sung a legend.
As a young man Park Ji-Sung’s dreams of becoming a footballer were faltering. Despite his talents he had been deemed too physically small to make it. To remedy this his father fed Park frogs, antlers and deer blood, all in the hope that it would increase his physical abilities
Whether a natural growth spurt or the deer blood, Park did grow and by the year 2000 he’d got his first taste of professional football with Japanese second division side Kyoto Purple Sanga.
Several impressive seasons followed and Park’s big break came when he was called up to represent Korea at the 2002 World Cup. He played a key role in the sides controversial progression all the way to the semi finals and his performances impressed manager Guus Hidink sufficiently that when he made the move back to club football with PSV, he insisted on taking Park with him.
After initially struggling to settle into his new surroundings, Park soon became a central figure in a fantastic PSV side. Playing centrally or on the right his athleticism and passing ability helped the side overwhelm their opposition time and time again.
Alongside the experience of Phillip Cocu and the solid Mark Van Bommel he formed part of a standout midfield and his two seasons at the club saw him win back to back Eredivisie titles.
In his second season at the club, Park played a key role in one of the great underrated Champions League runs. PSV made it all the way to the semi finals where they met the great AC Milan side who would so famously fall to Liverpool in the final.
After a finding themselves two down from the first leg in Milan, the Dutch side rallied in Eindhoven.
Park opened the scoring in the 9th minute and despite the side going on to score a further two goals in the game, PSV ultimately lost out on away goals.
If his World Cup performances had earned Park his big move to Europe, his two seasons in the Netherlands made him one of footballs hottest commodities and in the summer of 2005 he completed a £4 million transfer to Manchester United. By the time he retired in 2014 he stood as the the most decorated Asian footballer of all time
Moral of the story, feed your kids deer blood.