Wed, Jul 11, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Park Ji-sung leaves United to take on QPR ‘challenge’

AFP, LONDON

South Korea midfielder Park Ji-sung laughs at a press conference announcing his transfer to Queens Park Rangers in London on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

South Korea’s Park Ji-sung left Premier League giants Manchester United for top-flight minnows Queens Park Rangers on Monday in a bid to get more first-team action.

The industrious 31-year-old midfielder spent seven years at Old Trafford after arriving from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, scoring 27 goals in 203 appearances for United.

Park — capped more than 100 times and the only Asian to score in three successive World Cup finals tournaments (2002, 2006 and 2010) — helped United win four Premier League titles, three League Cups and the 2008 Champions League, but he could not quite nail down a first-choice spot in the Red Devils’ midfield.

“It was a very difficult decision, it’s hard to leave such a big club, but QPR showed me what they are trying to be,” he said. “It is time for a new challenge.”

Park, who signed for an undisclosed fee believed to be more than £2 million (US$3.1 million), reportedly received offers from leading clubs in England, Europe and Asia.

However, he decided to join a QPR side owned by ambitious Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes and managed by former United striker Mark Hughes.

“QPR want to be a bigger club, they want to improve and it’s a great challenge,” Park said. “It was a difficult decision, but they have great players and they are hungry to get to the next level. It’s not about the money. The manager, Mark Hughes, has a proven track record at Premier League level, and I am looking forward to working with him and the rest of the squad to help take the club to the next level.”

Park is Rangers’ sixth pre-season signing, joining Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Johnson, Robert Green, Samba Diakite and his former United teammate Fabio at Loftus Road.

“On a football level, Ji is someone I have admired from afar for years,” Hughes said. “He wore the red shirt of Manchester United in a distinguished way and he will bring a great deal to the team, I can’t wait to start working with him. Ji is a motivated guy, he feels there is success ahead of him, he ticks every box. It’s a very exciting time for QPR.”

“He’s very adept in a number of positions. What he brings to the team is technical ability, a huge work ethic and a winning mentality,” Hughes said. “He understands what it takes to win trophies and to win matches, and I want to take that from Ji and pass it to the rest of the team. I said at the end of the season we didn’t want to be in the same position next season and I stand by that, we are in a better place now.”

Meanwhile, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was sorry to see Park go.

“He is the ultimate professional and such a nice lad,” Ferguson said. “He never let us down on the big occasions. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t give him the number of games he wanted.”

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