Ace Asian Forward
Full Name: Son Heung-min
Birthdate: August 7, 1992
Place of Birth: South Korea
Playing years: 2008-Present
Position(s): Forward (Winger, Midfielder, Striker)
KFA Football Player of the Year awards
AFC International Footballer of the Year awards
Premier League Player of the Month (September 2016, April 2017)
Passion for football runs in the blood for South Korean native Son Heung-min. His father Son Wong-jung is a retired football player turned manager who also played for the national team. Son’s family briefly stayed in New Zealand where he attended an exchange program. He was enrolled in FC Seoul academy until 2008 where he was occasionally a ball boy. At the age of 16, he dropped out of high school to pursue football overseas. He joined German team Hamburger SV’s youth academy and had impressive seasons with the team. After teammates went on to close transfer deals, manager Thorsten Fink placed Son in his starting lineup. It proved to be just what the forward needed. He helped Die Rothosen claim a 4-2 victory against Borussia Dortmund with two away goals. In 2013, his services were acquired by Bayer Leverkusen for a reported transfer fee of €10 million (the club’s highest transfer fee at the time). He proved deserving of the large sum though. He went on to score three goals in first three appearances for exhibition matches and then a hat-trick in the latter part of the year. By 2015, he caught the eye of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and he was recruited for £22 million making him the most expensive Asian footballer in history.
Notable Skills/Style of Play
– Positional flexibility
– Counter-attacking style
– Plays short passes
– Explosive pace
– Clinical finishing
– Strong through balls
Son first netted for the Spurs in a 3-1 triumph opposite Qarabağ. Days later, he bagged his first Premier League goal at the 68th minute of the game against Crystal Palace. He reportedly planned to leave Tottenham but Mauricio Pochettino urged him to stay and fight for his place in the team. His decision to heed the manager’s advice paid off. He had a phenomenal run in season 2016-2017, scoring more goals than ever before. He was eventually named Premier League Player of the Month for September (and again in April 2017). He is the first Asian and the first South Korean to receive the accolade. On November 2017, he struck the only goal in their 1-0 win over The Eagles. This made him the top Asian goalscorer in Premier League history.
The World Cup Dream
In 2002, South Korea made history when they finished fourth in the FIFA World Cup. They’re the first ever Asian nation to get to the semi-finals and Park Ji Sung’s goal against Portugal proved South Korea can slay giants.
This year, Korea pins its hopes to Son Heung-min. The Tottenham hotshot spearheads his team and the pressure is on. With the loss of Dijon’s Kwon Chang-hoon in the final squad, Son needs to be in his very best form for South Korea to advance to the group stages or round 16. Sports commentators have singled him out as a legitimate star player but he can’t carry the load alone in Russia. They have been drawn to a very difficult-looking Group F with Sweden, Mexico, and defending champions Germany.
What South Korea’s “Sonaldo” can bring to the table this time remains to be seen.
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