Over the last 100+ years in football, the world has been dominated by mainly European and South American footballers. However, over time top class footballers have emerged from the likes of Africa, Asia and North America.
However, one anomaly is Asian players in the Champions League. While a number of top class Asian players have graced the European game, there has been a very limited number of Asian Players who have won the Champions League.
Keep reading to find out every Asian player to have won the UEFA Champions League.
Asian Players who have won the Champions League
As of the time of writing, Park Ji-Sung is the only Asian football player to have won the UEFA Champions League. The South Korean midfielder was a key part of the Manchester United squad that won the UEFA Champions League in 2008 and was awarded a medal for his part in the campaign.
Park had started in both of the semi final ties against Barcelona that season, as Manchester United drew 0-0 at the Nou Camp (after Cristiano Ronaldo missed a first half penalty) before a Paul Scholes thunderbolt fired Manchester United into their first Champions League final since their incredible last-gasp victory in 1999.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson dropped Park, usually a big-game player for United, for the final. Instead, he opted for former Bayern Munich Midfielder Owen Hargreaves on the right hand side of the midfield, a baffling decision for some. Luckily Park was a consummate professional and never complained about being dropped by Ferguson and happily took his place on the bench, ready to help his team when called upon.
Manchester United drew against Chelsea in the final 1-1, after Frank Lampard cancelled out a Ronaldo header in the first half. The final went all the way to penalties, with Didier Drogba being sent off for slapping Vidic en route to a nail biting finale for a long season for both sets of players.
United won the 2008 Champions League Final shootout after John Terry’s famous slip, but Park Ji-Sung was nowhere to be found. Despite being a key part of the team that beat Barcelona in the semi-final, he never made it off the bench in the final in Moscow, with Giggs (to break the all-time Manchester United appearance record), Nani and Anderson instead favoured to come off the bench.
Even though he did not feature in the final, Park Ji-Sung was given his well-deserved winners medal and became the first and so far only Asian player to win the UEFA Champions League to date.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
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