Paul Scholes has been speaking about the Manchester United player who used to give him the hardest time in training, describing Park Ji-Sung as a “nightmare” on the pitch due to his man-marking style.
The former South Korean international arrived at the club for a fee of £4million in 2005 from PSV Eindhoven before going on to carve out a career for himself as a cult hero among the Old Trafford faithful.
Park’s tenacious style and ability to man-mark the opposition’s key players saw him routinely selected by Alex Ferguson for big games including the 2009 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona when he started ahead of Scholes.
“Do you know who the worst one was? Park Ji-sung. He was a nightmare! He was unbelievable,” he said.
The former midfielder described how Park’s energy levels and discipline set him apart, citing his memorable performance against Andrea Pirlo of AC Milan in 2010 as an example.
“Do you remember when he did it against Pirlo? Ah, he was unreal! He had energy all day and discipline. The discipline was unreal.
“He just used to come up to me, look at me and not say a word, stand right next to me… ‘Oh Jesus, here we go!’ ‘Come on, ginge!’ – Just say something to me, have a laugh with me!
“But he was unbelievable at it. He just used to come and stare right into my face, stare right into my eyes, ‘You’re not getting a kick today’.”
Scholes is remembered as one of United’s greatest ever players and is widely regarded as one of the best central midfielders in British football history due to his excellent technique and pinpoint passing. However, it could have worked out very differently.
Speaking to Wes Brown, Danny Webber and Ben Thornley as part of MUTV’s ‘Group Chat’ series, the former England midfielder was asked about how he became one of the best players in possession in world football.
Scholes spoke about how he started out at the club as a centre forward before famed youth team coach Eric Harrison told him he would end up in central midfield.
“I grew up as a centre-forward. I was just a goalscorer which you find hard to believe to where my position went on but I always liked playing in midfield.
“Eric Harrison always said I’d be a central midfield player and possession was everything we did when you’re 11-12 years of age in the academy, it was just always about possession so over the years you’re just watching players and you learn how to do it.”
Scholes also said that he learned from watching teammates such as Roy Keane.
“And I had great players in front of me to watch and learn off… you think of people like Roy Keane in possession who never gave the ball away, later on when [Juan Sebastian] Veron came, great one-twos and all that type of play and I do remember you trying to man-mark me, but you weren’t the only one, Wes!