Ji Sung Park had an incredible footballing career becoming the first Korean player to play for Manchester United and appearing at three World Cups.
However, the one-time Champions League winner believes, despite all the hard work he put as a pro, that he is about to start his biggest challenge yet and that is to try to help guide South Korea to the very top of football.
What Park hung up his boots in 2014 it was expected that he would make the transition into management having played under big-name bosses such as Guus Hiddink and Sir Alex Ferguson but he says working under them took him on a different journey.
Instead of taking the head coaching position with South Korea he decided to take the reins of the country’s youth development. The Koreans are historically the best performing Asian side at the World Cups and its premier clubs have won the most continental club trophies but there are big concerns regarding the future of football there.
“The reason that Korea has been a strong nation in Asia was because we produced strong young players,” Park said.
“These days people can’t see this, and so there is a feeling of crisis.”
This feeling has led to much debate within the game in Korea as to how to better the system of developing youth talent.
Cha Bum Keun, South Korea’s former head coach and the player who successfully negotiated the European leagues before Park has a view that the country should follow the German way of developing talent.
“South Koreans don’t give up easily and have the strength to fight until the end,” he said.
“They are also similar to Germans fighting spirit, and that’s why I believe German football is suitable for us.”
For now, the Korean focus is all about the World Cup next year in Russia but it will be interesting to see how they develop in years to come.