When Gert Engels first saw a youthful Park Ji-sung on a few video tapes, nothing really stood out. 'He didn't score a goal and he didn't have an assist,' recalls Engels, who has coached in Japan for over 10 years. 'In fact there was nothing eye-catching, nothing special, about his game at all.' So what made Engels sign the unknown Park for Japanese club Kyoto Purple Sanga in June 2000 when he wasn't even with a professional team in his native South Korea? 'The thing that impressed me the most was that he was very stable and very cool,' adds the German coach. 'He was only 18 or 19, and the form of most players that age goes up and down. 'But not Park. He never made a mistake, which was surprising because of his age, and he showed great tactical discipline wherever he played.' Engels was manager of Kyoto at the time and Park quickly became a coach's dream: A player who would put the good of the team before individual glory, and who would never have a bad game. It's no surprise to Engels, therefore, that Park has graduated from Kyoto to Manchester United, via PSV Eindhoven. 'I am very happy for him. No one deserves it more,' he said, when the #4 million ($54.5 million) transfer from the Dutch league to the English Premiership was concluded last month. 'He has proved in the Champions League against teams such as AC Milan that he can perform at this higher level ... and PSV went further than Manchester United last season.' Engels feels that Park is still maturing, and the form he produced in Guus Hiddink's South Korea team at the 2002 World Cup can be improved upon. 'He is a player who is still developing. He showed this at Kyoto Purple Sanga, day by day, week by week and month by month, and then at PSV. The move to Manchester United is the next logical step in his career, his next challenge. 'There are eight to 10 tough games a season in Holland but there are lots of not so tough games, but at Manchester United he will have two tough games every week. Now he needs to prove himself at a higher level, and I think he is good enough because he listens and understands, and is a very quick learner.' Park was one of Hiddink's unsung heroes at the 2002 World Cup. He did not possess the movie-star looks of Ahn Jung-hwan, the high-speed dribble of Lee Chun-soo, the charisma of Yoo Sang-chul or the elegance of Hong Myung-bo, but he produced a series of consistent, no-risk performances which helped Korea into the semi-finals. Playing on the right side of attack in Hiddink's dynamic 3-4-3 formation, he scored only one goal, but it was a candidate for 'goal of the tournament' as he showed the touch and finishing quality of Dennis Bergkamp to beat Portugal 1-0 in the last group game. When Hiddink returned to PSV after the World Cup, Park, still at Kyoto, was high on his shopping list, and the pair were reunited in January 2003 at the end of the Japanese season. Park, who is still only 24, played a total of 76 league games for Purple Sanga between June 2000 and November 2002, scoring 11 goals, and exactly half of those appearances were in Kyoto's second division championship-winning season of 2001. With 12 teams playing each other four times in a marathon 44-game campaign, there was plenty of opportunity for Park to gain match experience. 'We were not a very strong team at the time but he played in nearly every game,' says Engels, who is now assistant coach to fellow German Guido Buchwald at Japan's best-supported club, Urawa Reds. 'Some players need a rival to give them competition, but not Park. He was so ambitious and had no fear of losing his place in the team, and just played every game at a normal, stable level. 'He played 38 league games in that second division season and it was a big advantage for him because he developed into a dynamic player who was very hard to stop. There were many fouls against him, as the statistics from the World Cup will show.' Those stats reveal that Park was fouled 24 times during Korea's seven games, committed six fouls himself and made 31 tackles. In the modern game, where so many matches are decided by set-piece moves, that fouls-against count makes Park a valuable member of the team. If only David Beckham were still at Manchester United to fire home all those inviting free-kicks. Engels describes Park as a quiet person but predicts he will be popular with the other players at Old Trafford. 'He still keeps in touch with some of the Kyoto players, and was always well-liked and respected. 'On a personal level, I will always appreciate what he did for the team at the end of the 2002 season. 'We were still in the Emperor's Cup, but Park had an Achilles tendon injury. He had agreed to sign for PSV in the new year, and many players would not have risked the injury as the transfer might have fallen through. But Park played in the last three games, and Kyoto won the Emperor's Cup on New Year's Day 2003. No one will forget that.' If Manchester United supporters think the signing of Park is some kind of gimmick to boost their Asian fan base, they had better think again. After all, how many current Manchester United players have appeared in a World Cup semi-final and Champions League semi-final? factfile 1981 - born February 25 in Seoul. 1999 - joins Japanese side Kyoto Purple Sanga. 2000: wins first cap against Laos. 2002, June 14 - scores winner in South Korea's defeat of Portugal which knocks the Europeans out of the World Cup. June 25 - plays in World Cup semi-final as South Korea lose 1-0 to Germany. December 21 - Signs for PSV Eindhoven. 2003 - PSV win Dutch league with Park making eight appearances. 2005 - scores seven goals in 28 matches as PSV win league and cup double. May 4 - scores in PSV's 3-1 win over AC Milan in Champions League semi-final but the Dutch side go out on away goals. June 8 - scores final goal as South Korea beat Kuwait 4-0 to secure qualification for next year's World Cup finals. June 22 - confirmed as a Manchester United signing. July 5 - granted work permit to play in England.