EXCLUSIVE: Reds recruit Kim 'plays like me', says Man United legend Park Ji-Sung

Have Adelaide United just recruited their version of Manchester United legend Park Ji-Sung? The man himself certainly thinks so.

Kim Jae-Sung

Kim Jae-Sung during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. Source: Getty Images

Park has given a big commendation to Kim Jae-Sung saying the new Reds recruit plays just like him and possesses all the right qualities to give the struggling side a much-needed boost.

The 33-year Kim was snapped up by the Reds – who have won just two games all season – from Korean second division side Seoul E-Land, where he spent two seasons.

He moved to Seoul E-Land after a decorated spell with Pohang Steelers between 2008 and 2014, playing 129 games and scoring 16 goals.

In that period, he also spent two seasons on loan with the Sangju Sangmu, the nation’s military team, where he performed compulsory service, bagging a further seven goals in two years.

Park, widely considered the biggest Korean football star of his generation, boasts four Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League trophy and a FIFA Club World Cup trophy among his many honours during his time with Manchester United from 2005 to 2012.

He’s also earned 100 caps for the South Korean national side and was part of the team that claimed fourth place at the World Cup in 2002.

Both Park and Kim went to the same football school in Korea and while Park was two years older he took note of the youngster’s talents when a coach alerted him about Kim's obvious potential.

“I actually think that he plays a really similar way to me,” 35-year-old Park told The World Game.

“I don’t know if that’s because we went to the same school and we learned to play the same way, but it is very possible that we were influenced by similar coaches and share many of the same attributes. He’s also a bit similar in personality – we were both quieter players in the dressing room.

“I followed his career after my high school coach told me he could really make it as a professional and it was great when we eventually did play together in the national team and go all the way to the World Cup.”

Kim has only signed a short-term deal with the reigning A-League champions until the end of the season (inclusive of their upcoming Asian Champions League campaign) but Park believes Kim’s adaptability will give manager Guillermo Amor a pleasant surprise, even if he hasn’t been named for tonight’s match against Perth Glory at Coopers Stadium (LIVE and FREE on SBS VICELAND).

“He’s very versatile, he can play in the middle, or at right back, or on the left if he needs to. His versatility is his biggest asset,” Park said.

“When you have a player like that, it gives the manager flexibility in terms of tactics. He really is capable of playing in any position and that is what makes him different. He’s a team player and is always working extremely hard.

“He’s also got a really good technique – more so than most players. That’s something that he has always had in his game. He’s got a great 'football sense' in terms of positioning and decision-making.”

Plenty will recognise Kim from his spell with the South Korean national team between 2010 and 2012, where he scored twice in 16 appearances, and was selected for the squad that played in the 2010 World Cup.

He was also part of the Pohang squad that won the 2009 AFC Champions League (routing the Newcastle Jets 6-0 in the round of 16), a year after the Steelers won the Korean FA Cup.

Although Kim isn’t renowned as a flashy player, Park believes he might get noticed by A-League fans for doing the things that often go overlooked.

“It depends on what the team expects, but he has a lot to give in terms of experience – a World Cup, knowledge of the AFC Champions League and many years with a top team, Pohang,” Park said.

“He has been in the second division in Korea recently, but I think he can still make any team more balanced with his experience and style.

“I’m not sure what his English is like but I did hear that he’s been having some lessons. That could help him a lot as he tries to adjust.”

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4 min read
Published 10 February 2017 at 1:39pm
By Sebastian Hassett