WATCH: Park’s man-marking masterclass on Andrea Pirlo in 2010

Park Ji-sung may not have been a permanent fixture of Manchester United‘s first choice XI, but he proved his worth consistently throughout his time at Old Trafford.

The Korean midfielder spent seven years at United between 2005 and 2012.

He won four Premier League titles and a Club World Cup, and played a key part in the club’s 2008 Champions League triumph, although he didn’t feature in the final against Chelsea.

Park was a major component in the winning United teams during the 2000s. He gained major plaudits for his energy, work-rate and ball-winning ability.

And those three qualities were put on full display when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side travelled to AC Milan in 2010 for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Although the Italian giants were not quite the force they were when they lifted their seventh European crown in 2007, their side was still packed with fearsome names.

Despite having lost Kaka to Real Madrid the previous summer, Milan could still call on the attacking talents of Ronaldinho, Alexandre Pato and Filippo Inzaghi.

David Beckham also spent part of that season on loan at the Rossoneri from La Galaxy, with Andrea Pirlo still the major player in midfield.

Ferguson decided to give Park the task of man-marking Pirlo for the entire 90 minutes, with the aim of cutting out his passing ability.

And the Korean acted on his manager’s orders to the letter.

Park’s influence on proceedings

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Pirlo could not shake off Park all night, and the midfielder closed down the Italian supremo at every possible opportunity.

His execution of the role played a major part in United’s 3-2 success that night, despite the Red Devils going behind to Ronaldinho’s third-minute strike.

A Paul Scholes close-range strike and Wayne Rooney‘s brace put United 3-1 up and in control of the tie. Clarence Seedorf rescued a consolation for Milan late on.

Park would assume the same role against Pirlo with aplomb in the second leg. The Italian was again prevented from asserting his usual dominance on the game.

The Korean even contributed in the attacking third. He scored the third goal of the night, and United secured a comprehensive 4-0 win to go through 7-2 on aggregate.

In his 2013 autobiography, Ferguson wrote: “Andrea Pirlo’s passing rate for Milan had been 75 per cent.

“When we played them with Ji-Sung Park in the hounding role we reduced Pirlo’s strike rate to 25 per cent.”

The Red Devils’ European progression that season would be halted by Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage. United won 3-2 at Old Trafford in the second leg, but lost out on away goals to the German side.

They would also lose out on the Premier League title to Chelsea by one point. Their sole trophy in 2009/10 was the League Cup.

Park would leave United on a permanent deal in 2012 to join Queens Park Rangers. Those nights against Milan will rank as two of his finest for the club.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

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