Park Ji-soo (29, Portimonense), a ‘new European’, pursued a ‘dream’ rather than ‘money’.
Park Ji-soo officially joined Portuguese Primera Liga (1st division) Portimonense on the 26th (Korean time) <Sports Chosun Exclusive Report on the 25th> According to Park Ji-soo, his contract period is until June 2024. Park Ji-soo, who was already staying in Portugal, finished his final signing after completing his medical test. Park Ji-soo became the ninth Korean player to travel to Portugal. With Park Ji-soo going to Europe, Korean football has two center backs who play in major European leagues along with ‘monster’ Kim Min-jae (Napoli).
It was a surprise trip to Europe. Park Ji-soo was one of the big fish in this transfer market. Park Ji-soo, who finished his military service by discharging Kimcheon Sangmu in December, obtained a free agent (FA) status as his original team, Guangzhou FC, suffered financial difficulties. In an era when high-quality center backs are rare, many teams showed interest when an active national defender, especially as a free agent, appeared on the market. K-League teams, especially Jeonbuk Hyundai, who were looking for a center back, were active. However, the negotiations broke down early due to disagreements over the ransom price.
Love calls from overseas such as China and the Middle East continued. In particular, Wuhan Sanjeon of the Chinese Super League sent hot courtship. Wuhan, the champions of last season’s Super League, looked for a special defender to prepare for the Asian Champions League. He pointed out Park Ji-soo, who had experience on the stage in China, and offered a huge salary. Up until this point, going to Wuhan seemed likely.
Meanwhile, calls came from Europe. He showed interest in recruiting Park Ji-soo from Turkey and Russia. An offer came from American Major League Soccer. As a child, when the vaguely planned trip to Europe was in sight, Park Ji-soo boldly changed his direction. He changed his strategy with the goal of entering Europe. While looking at various teams, an offer from Portimonense came. Portimonense was looking for a defender, but at the recommendation of former coach Paulo Bento, who recently left Korean soccer, he jumped into the race to recruit Park Ji-soo. 스포츠토토
It was a ridiculously low amount compared to Wuhan’s offer, but Park Ji-soo decided to pursue his dream. Although he is quite old, Park Ji-soo, who thought it was natural to have a dream of going to the big leagues if he was going to go to Europe, chose the Portuguese stage, which was of a higher level and easier to go to the big leagues. It was also a positive part that he had a lot of connections with Korean soccer. In February 2021, Lee Seung-woo (Suwon FC), who did not get a chance at Sint Trawidon at the time, was loaned out and played. Currently, 19-year-old striker Kim Yong-hak is playing. Kim Yong-hak is an ace of the U-20 national team, and Portimonense is also paying attention.
In addition to Korean players, Asian players played quite a bit, and Japan’s Nakajima Shoya, who boasted the highest transfer fee in Asia, played the role of an ace at Portimonense. Not only Japanese players such as Shuichi Gonda and Koki Anzai, but also Safawi Rashid from Malaysia played for Portimonense. Coach Paulo Sergio, who is currently leading the team, also has a high understanding of Asian players as he has coached in the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Park Ji-soo is a positional player. He started in the K3 League and succeeded in advancing to Europe. Park Ji-soo, who came from Incheon United Youth and joined Incheon in 2013, suffered a shock release without playing a single game. Park Ji-soo, who wandered to the point of considering his retirement, wore the FC Uijeongbu uniform of the K3 League, which corresponds to the 4th division in 2014. Park Ji-soo, who showed potential, moved to Gyeongnam FC in 2015 and returned to the K-League. Park Ji-su, who immediately became the nucleus of Gyeongnam’s defense, led the team’s promotion in 2017 and was selected as the K-League 2 Best 11.
In 2018, his skills were in full bloom. In particular, the ceremony of resentment after scoring the winning goal against Incheon drew a lot of attention. Park Ji-soo, who was also fierce in the K-League 1, boarded the Bento with a surprise card at the time. In recognition of his performance, he transferred to Guangzhou Hengda, which had left Kim Young-kwon at the time. The transfer fee alone exceeded 2 billion won. Park Ji-soo showed a good appearance in China, led the team to victory, and steadily posted his name on the national team.
He came on a short-term loan to Suwon FC for military service in 2021, but it did not live up to expectations, such as experiencing an incident where he was sent off for two consecutive games due to continued misjudgment and then revived as a follow-up penalty. Park Ji-soo, who joined Gimcheon Sangmu for military service in June, was a defender who was still attracting attention as a wild card in the Tokyo Olympics. In 2022, he showed the best performance in Gimcheon and was on the verge of boarding the final entry for the World Cup in Qatar, but he also tasted the misfortune of failing to participate in the World Cup due to a serious injury in which an ankle ligament was ruptured in the last evaluation match against Iceland.
However, he succeeded in entering Europe and became a blessing in disguise. Coincidentally, Celtic’s Oh Hyun-kyu and Park Ji-soo, who succeeded in advancing overseas after the World Cup, have one thing in common: they were frustrated at the threshold of the finals. Oh Hyun-gyu was named in the reserve entry and played an active role as the 27th player. Park Ji-soo, wearing the Portimonense uniform, is now competing for the starting position. Portimonense is said to be somewhat unstable in defense, although Portugal’s Philippe Reubas and Brazil’s Pedrand are guarding the center. He has conceded 10 goals in his last 5 matches. Park Ji-soo is in a situation where he can aim for a starter leap. Park Ji-soo will quickly participate in team training.