Former Manchester United player Park Ji-Sung has announced that he is to retire from football at the age of 33. Park, who has been suffering with persistent knee problems, explained:
I'm leaving with no regrets. I enjoyed playing football. I have achieved more than I 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.
Park joined United from PSV Eindhoven in July 2005 and went on to make 205 appearances over six-and-a-half years, lifting the Premier League trophy four times. He became the first Asian player to appear in the Champions League final in 2009, when United lost to Barcelona, and had appeared in the squad the previous year for the victory over Chelsea.
He scored 27 goals for United, often in big games: two apiece against Chelsea and Liverpool, and five against Arsenal, including the opening goal in the 2009 Champions League semi-final second leg. He also memorably marked Andrea Pirlo out of both legs of the 2010 Champions League last 16; Pirlo later claimed that this decision was a blemish on Ferguson's reputation, but was more complimentary of Park:
The midfielder must have been the first nuclear-powered South Korean in history, in the sense that he rushed about the pitch at the speed of an electron.
Park also made 100 appearances for South Korea, captaining his country until his international retirement in 2011, and became the first Asian player to score at three World Cups.