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[Opinion] Park Ji-sung in MU

Posted October. 04, 2005 03:07,   


Manchester and Lancashire have long been famous for their cotton textile industry.

The two cities are core industrial areas which served as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. In 1830, the railways connecting the two cities commenced operations for the first time in the world. A canal connecting the two cities opened in 1893. With its cotton textile industry declining, Manchester transformed itself into a commercial city with prospering financial and insurance businesses. The city of 390,000 has Old Trafford, the home stadium of the world’s richest team Manchester United (MU).

MU was originally an amateur soccer team called Newton Heath that railway workers from Lancashire and Yorkshire formed in 1878. The soccer club became MU in 1902 when its hometown was renamed Manchester. Both now and 120 years ago, soccer has been something with which the working class release their stress. Workers throng to pubs and watch TV there on MU game days. That is because it is very expensive to watch soccer games at home on a sports channel.

On days when a new uniform of the soccer club is introduced, souvenir shops in the stadiums are crowded with fans who want to buy uniforms bearing their favorite players’ names. Wayne Rooney, also known as an “enfant terrible” because of his tough behavior on the field, is reportedly the most popular these days. Fathers in Manchester bring their sons in red MU uniforms to the soccer field and teach life to them. “Son, a soccer ground is a miniature of the tough world.” It was reported that there are increasing numbers of tourists who buy the red uniform bearing “J S PARK,” as some quick Korean tour agencies include the MU home ground in their tour courses.

All the three goals that the soccer team scored in a Premier League game against Fulham were possible thanks to Park Ji-sung’s feet. “Enfant Terrible” Rooney did not spare his compliments, “When Ji-sung runs, he’s so fast that defenders from the other team don’t know what to do.” Alex Ferguson, coach of the team, repeatedly expressed his admiration, saying, “Ji-sung’s performance was fantastic.” As a “new engine” of the MU, Park Ji-sung, a 24-year-old man with a pimpled face, is shaking the home of soccer.

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com