City and England’s teenage sensation turns 19 today – further cause for celebration on a month which has already seen the forward shine with a string of superb displays.
While results have brought mixed fortunes, the youngster has impressed on an individual level to highlight her status as one of the country’s brightest rising stars, showcasing her potential with a Player of the Match performance against Everton in the Continental Cup group stage – capped with a stunning solo goal.
Rewarded for that exciting contribution, she was thrown into the deep end for the biggest test of the season so far: an away trip to Champions Chelsea – a fixture which had seen past youngsters, such as Ellie Roebuck, Georgia Stanway and Lauren Hemp, dazzle.
Although she wouldn’t grab a goal on that occasion, she held her own against some of the game’s best defenders – unafraid to drive at them at every opportunity.
Speaking in a recent interview, manager Gareth Taylor dubbed the winger ‘a nightmare to play against’, expressing his belief the 19-year-old has the makings of a star.
“She has energy and enthusiasm and although she needs to tidy up a little bit around the final third with her decision-making, everything is there for her to be a great player,” he said.
The year 2020 has already proven an unforgettable one for Park, who penned her first professional deal with City and bagged her first senior hat-trick in a scintillating 10-0 FA Cup triumph over Ipswich.
She had hoped the 2020/21 campaign would mark her breakthrough season with the Club’s commitment to developing its young talent, and having earned such high praise in recent weeks, she says the faith shown in her is aiding that progression.
“It gives me a lot more confidence when I’m playing,” she declared.
“When I’ve come on, I think I’ve looked energetic – I’ve scored a few goals and got a few assists and hopefully, I can build from there.
“It builds confidence and allows me to do what I do.”
Coupled with the fact she is playing alongside and against some of the greatest players in the game is also playing its part: on and off the pitch.
For any person to have have moved to a new city at 16 in pursuit of a dream shows real courage, a steely determination and unwavering belief – all of which Park possess in abundance.
“I feel like I’ve developed so much already and I hope that keeps growing,” she added. “It’s incredible.
“I’m inspired so much by the players – I aspire to be like them. It’s great to play with them and learn from them, getting advice every day. They’re always giving me things to work on and improve on, which is really good.
“It’s great to have experienced players to learn from and young ones to be able to connect with. You can learn all sorts from all different players – they’re all so different.
“It’s about patience: I always want to play football – I love playing – but it will come, as long as I keep working hard and taking every opportunity possible.
“I feel I’ve definitely become a lot more confident off the pitch, which is good. Going to college here, I have a lot of friends here now.
“I can be quiet but I can be a bit cheeky and fun too. It depends on my mood!
“It’s always hard, moving away from your home, but I’ve learnt to get on with it.
“I just want to keep working hard, doing what I’m doing – learning from the girls every day – and developing to be technically good on the ball all the time.
“Short-term, I wanted to start breaking in a bit more into the team with more gametime and long-term, I’d love to play regularly for City and maybe England as well.”
Can we expect more hat-tricks this season? Let’s hope so…
“It was definitely a big moment in my career,” Park reflected. “I didn’t really expect it to happen.
“After the first goal, I kept pushing for more, trying to find as many opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, as well as playing off assists.
“There were a few hat-tricks in that game! I won the matchball in the end – Georgia Stanway and Pauline Bremer kindly gave it to me, as it was my first hat-trick.”
Asked of her footballing inspirations, Park’s icons include the game's biggest names.
“I like the way Fran Kirby plays,” she revealed.
“And on the men’s side, the usual – Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi!”
So, is Park the next Messi…?
“I wouldn’t go that far but we’ll try!” she laughed.