Despite my predisposed reticence toward granting any Manchester United player an ounce of credit (I've been an Arsenal fan ever since I watched a Dennis Bergkamp highlight at age seven—I know, I know, but I'm an American; what else was I supposed to do?), I've always felt that Ji Sung Park, the swiss-army knife of the United midfield for well-on six years now, has always been vastly underrated.
It runs counter to my club allegiance, but I can't help it. As someone who's played the game at a high level, I can appreciate a player who works his tail off match in, match out. Why Park has never become a first-team regular is beyond my reckoning. I'd pick him for my side.
It's hardly his fault. Whenever Sir Alex Ferguson has called upon the South Korean international, he has delivered, time and again.
Park is often a first choice of the illustrious Scot manager during Champions League play, where his experience and industry work wonders with remarkable consistency.
Yet despite his track record, he has never been a regular in the starting United XI, ceding a potential spot on the wing to more acclaimed players such as—this season providing a perfect example—Nani and Ashley Young.
He has never complained (at least not to my knowledge), he has never drooped his shoulders during a match to show his displeasure at his stop-start situation. He simply plays, and gives his all.
That's the mark of a consummate professional.
In diagnosing similar servants within the classic English top four (United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal), I found that each side had a player with similar traits to Park. They don't vie for the spotlight on a weekly basis. Rather, their play speaks for them. And it hits high decibel levels.
More power to them for it.