Park Ji-Sung is the most successful Asian player of his generation and arguably of all time, as the South Korean has had a glittering career in Europe with PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United, as well as captaining his country. The 30-year-old has played a part in six league title wins, four domestic cup victories and has a Champions League winners medal.
Since signing for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in 2005 the midfielder has had a knack of playing in the big matches, as Fergie has entrusted Park with the responsibility of delivering when it counts. Foreign players in the Premier League can be hit or miss, with a lot not coping with the physical demands of the game, which differ from any other nation in the world. Park however has raised the bar with his values of hard work, determination and a never say die attitude, that any British player would be proud of. The amount of energy the ex-Kyoto Purple Sanga man has is astounding, and has led team-mate Rio Ferdinand to say the following in the season just past:
“The lads in the changing-room sometimes sit and laugh at the amount of work Ji gets through, because it’s just ridiculous. We just want to know what he eats pre-match and at home. He must have a different diet to all of us because the way he runs and the energy he’s got is phenomenal. It’s great to see and have as a part of your team. He’s definitely an unsung hero. Ji scores goals in big games. The manager just seems to pick him all the time in the big games and he just delivers. He doesn’t get all the headlines but he’s appreciated by his team-mates.”
United’s Asian import must be likened to the Energizer bunny, as he just keeps going and going where others give up. This is not down to a Popeye eats spinach situation, it is due to the Goheung born player’s Asian diet.
Park sticks to a strict diet of rice, vegetables, and fresh fruits, with fish and other lean meats, rich in Omega 3. The guilty pleasures of red meat, fast food and a few beers at the pub that British players have been associated with is of no interest to this brand of bunny, who is more interested in Vitamin D than something deep fried.
So to answer Rio’s bewilderment and as a role model for all aspiring professional footballers; ditch the British diet of starchy and unhealthy food, load up on carbs and look for a more oriental approach.
Gareth McKnight writes for Soccerlens.com.