Sir Alex Ferguson: I regret leaving Park Ji-Sung out of 2008 Champions League final
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted his regret at leaving Manchester United fan favourite Park Ji-Sung out of his 18-man Champions League final squad against Chelsea in 2008.
Park, who retired from professional football in 2014 following a spell with PSV, spent seven years at Old Trafford and was renowned for being a player that Ferguson called upon regularly in big matches.
However, injuries restricted him to just 18 appearances (four in the Champions League) in the 2007-08 season which resulted in him being omitted from the squad for the final in Moscow.
He said: “To win the European Cup is fantastic. It was a really great bunch of players with a great attitude about them and a good, strong squad.
“My problem in the 2008 final, maybe I even regret it to this day, was I left Ji-sung Park out completely in the final. He’d played such a great role and that’s the problem when you get to these finals.’
“At Wembley [in 2011] I did it to Dimitar Berbatov and he took it badly. He didn’t deserve it. No player deserves to be left out of the final.”
Ferguson also suggested that teams should be able to name 11 substitutes in finals by saying: “That’s why we try hard at these European seminars with the coaches to try to get 11 subs in the final. You’ve got four or five sitting in the stand who made fantastic contributions in getting there.”
Ultimately, it wasn’t a decision that cost the Red Devils as they triumphed in the final on penalties after Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard had scored in 90 minutes.
Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was United’s hero on the night as he saved the decisive penalty from Nicolas Anelka after John Terry had passed up the opportunity to win the trophy for the Blues by slipping before his kick.
Although Park missed out on a place in the squad, he still collected a winners medal after featuring in the competitions previously and in total, he won nine major honours in Manchester and represented the club on 205 occasions.