Soccer Star Park Ji Sung Receives Farewell Ceremony
luvsmiling, Dec. 19, 2014, 10:50 a.m.
Park Ji-sung, one of the most decorated Asian footballers in history, retired in May while playing for PSV Eindhoven, the same team he began his European career with. The Dutch team officially honored his retirement on Wednesday during their match against Feyenoord at Philips Stadion, the home of PSV Eindhoven, where he was the honored guest.
For the farewell ceremony a huge flag carrying Park's image and a banner saying, "Warrior from the South" were hung over the crowd. The "Ji-sung Park" song played and the fans welcomed him with thunderous applause. Park walked around the stadium clapping and waving at the fans.
Park spent seven years playing for Manchester United, and was the pillar of the Korean national team for 11 years from 2000 to 2011, leading the national team to a fourth place finish in the 2002 World Cup and to the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup.
Fans and clubs paid their respects to the departure of the superstar. Korea's K-League hosted an All-Star Game which also served as Park's retirement match in July. Park never played in the K-League, but his contribution to Korean football was enough to justify such an event. Despite heavy rain, over 50,000 fans came to greet the football hero.
His former teams are also treating him with respect, even more so after his retirement. He was named a club ambassador for Manchester United in October, making him the first non-European and sixth all-time club ambassador for the prestigious club, joining the ranks of Sir Alex Ferguson, Andrew Cole, Sir Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson and Denis Law.
Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes appointed Park as a global ambassador for his firm Air Asia last week. Park played for QPR after leaving the English Premier League at the end of the 2012-13 season.
The Netherlands also have a soft spot for Park. When Park first arrived in Eindhoven in 2003, he struggled to adapt to his new life and PSV fans booed him. Guus Hiddink, the manager at the time, would only start Park in away games to protect him.
But it took only one season for jeers to turn to cheers. Park scored 11 goals in the 2004-05 season, and was instrumental in the team's winning the league and the FA Cup and advancing to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions' League. It was an unforgettable season for both Park and the PSV fans.
The PSV fans were moved once again when Park returned to Eindhoven to conclude his career. Park worked tirelessly and unselfishly as a veteran on a team full of young players, moving fans' hearts.