Domestic Leagues

Park Ji-sung: Investment in youth development vital to bridge gap with Europe

Goyang: Park Ji-sung's focus will be on youth development as the Korea Republic legend embarks on his new role as adviser to K League champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Park, who spent an extensive amount of time playing in Europe for PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers, witnessed first hand how investment in development paved the way for success and the 39-year-old is hoping to make a difference in the K League.

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"If we don't establish a youth development system like in Europe, then the gap between us and them will grow even larger," said Park to local media. "I'd like to play a role in narrowing that gulf.

"I think we need to adopt a lot of the European ways. The most important thing is to see how much we can bring over from Europe and how well we can fit them into the Korean system."

While admitting such a change will take time before it bears fruit, the five-time Premier League winner believes that Jeonbuk could lead the way and eventually encourage other clubs to follow suit.

"Now it's time for Jeonbuk to establish a system that other clubs could emulate and follow. I hope Jeonbuk will be the leader in that aspect, too.

"Jeonbuk are already the top club in the K League. I don't think any changes need to be made to the K League side, but I should be able to help out with the youth system and other organisational areas."

Park, who had previously served as the head of the Korea Football Association Youth Development Strategy from 2017 to 2018, revealed that he had initially turned down the role last December as he can't stay in Korea Republic year-round, but took up the position as Jeonbuk say that it would not be a necessity as long as he is able to share his wealth of knowledge and experience.

"I started a coaching certificate course in Britain last summer, and it's going to take a while before I can complete it because we've only done online classes due to COVID-19," Park said. "I have no plans to live in Korea at the moment. But I'll be visiting every quarter to work with Jeonbuk.

"I am doing that course mainly because I think it's going to help me as an administrator. I am curious about how a former player ends up becoming a coach. Understanding that process should help with club operations. I may decide to coach youth players, but I don't plan on coaching at the pro level."

Photo: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC

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