Tireless and tenacious, it did not take long for the talent of Joo-Ho Park to prick the ears of leading Japanese clubs. He won the J-League at Kashima Antlers before following an all-too-familiar path to Europe.
FC Basel 1893 won the race to sign the South Korean midfielder, taking him under contract in 2011 and blooding him in the Swiss Super League soon after. Memorable performances, such as the one which helped the Bebbi knock Manchester United FC out of the UEFA Champions League, and beat FC Bayern München that same year, pushed Park further forward in the shop window.
After 77 Swiss top-flight apperances, back-to-back league titles and a UEFA Europa League semi-final appearance against Chelsea FC in 2013, Park took the next step up the global footballing ladder by joining Mainz, having already become a fully-fledged South Korea international.
A winger's and greenkeeper's worst nightmare
An idea of just how appreciated Park was at Basel came when they met Mainz in a summer friendly shortly after their number three had left. He was presented with a Basel shirt expressing the Swiss club's thanks. It was the official end of one beautiful friendship and the start of another for Park. With 2,328 minutes on the field in his debut season, only four of his new team-mates managed more in 2013/14.
The Mainz fans warmed to Park as he provided stability to their back four, using his natural talent on the left to optimal effect. The Coface Arena turf turned a shade of brown down the flanks where Park had been bursting back and forth, with his perpetual running and energetic involvement. The rest of the world can see that too at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where Park is keeping opposition wingers and the local groundsmen frustrated in equal measure.