Alex Ferguson has admitted that axing Park Ji-Sung from his squad for last season's Champions League final against Chelsea was the “hardest decision I have ever had to make.”
United went on to lift their third European Cup following a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, but South Korean midfielder Park was forced to watch the game from the stands, sat in his club suit, after being omitted from the eighteen-man squad by manager Ferguson.
Having fought back from a serious knee injury to return to action last December, the former PSV Eindhoven star had appeared to have made himself a key figure as United closed in on a Premier League and Champions League double.
But the 27-year-old still missed out on a place on the bench in Moscow.
Ferguson, despite selling the likes of David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy and ruthlessly dropping high-profile players such as Jim Leighton, Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce from FA Cup Final teams during his reign as United boss, admits his decision to axe Park was as tough as any.
“It was a terrible decision to have to take. In many ways it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make because Ji-Sung had played such a great part in the previous games against Roma and Barcelona.
“But I had Owen Hargreaves for that game in Moscow because I felt he was the right one for that specific game. Then I had the decision of choosing our seven substitutes and which players could have an impact on the game.
“You look for a mix of defenders, midfielders and attackers and I opted to go with Nani ahead of Ji-Sung, simply because I think Nani has got a goal in him. That was the only distinction and why I finally chose to go with Nani.”
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