For 6th time, Park declines player of year

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For 6th time, Park declines player of year

Park Ji-sung has yet again declined to attend the Asian Football Confederation Annual Awards ceremony, wiping out any chance of receiving Asia’s Player of the Year honor. The 29-year-old midfielder has been nominated six times since 2005 but has yet to attend the yearly gala because of team obligations with the English Premier League’s Manchester United.

AFC has held firm on its regulation that nominees must attend its ceremony in order to receive the award. This year’s ceremony will be held on Nov. 23 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Manchester United, which played Bursaspor in a UEFA Champions League Group C match earlier today at Ataturk Stadium in Bursa, Turkey, will play the Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League on Nov. 25.

“I think Ji-sung has decided to place importance on his obligations with his club ahead of any personal awards,” Park Sung-jong, the player’s father, said yesterday.

According to those close to the player, the 29-year-old midfielder had been leaning heavily toward attending the awards ceremony this year.

His Manchester United teammate and close friend, Patrice Evra, is said to have encouraged Park to attend the ceremony and to receive the award given to the best Asian player.

FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon is said to have also encouraged Park to attend the ceremony during a visit to the Park Ji-sung Football Center in Suwon last month.

Park’s decision to skip the awards is understandable when considering his production this season.

After participating in the 2010 South Africa World Cup, Park was sluggish in the early stages of the season.

He just started to hit his stride with his first goal of the season against Wolverhampton in a Carling Cup match on Oct. 24 and a strong showing against Tottenham on Sunday.

Yasuhito Endo of Gamba Osaka won the Player of the Year award last year while Ki Sung-yeung won Youth Player of the Year. Other notable winners included Huh Jung-moo (Manager of the Year), Korea (National Team of the Year) and the Pohang Steelers (Club of the Year).


By Choi Won-chang [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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