Tottenham’s South Korean star Son Heung-min has given an insight into the dedication to football that helped him reach the top level and how he plans to stay there for as long as possible.
Son has been named as the Best Footballer in Asia by Titan Sports in four of the last five years and is his country’s chief talisman, having netted 23 goals in 72 senior appearances, as well as leading South Korea to a gold medal at the Asian Games.
Spurs’ South Korean star recently sat down with David Hytner of The Guardian for an extended interview about his development, and specifically about the role his father played in that development.
The Tottenham forward’s father, Son Woong-jung, was a former professional footballer who made it to a good level in South Korea, and he had begun to coach his boys, making it his mission to guide them to the top, avoiding the pitfalls that he encountered. On this occasion, he saw red and, to borrow the word Son uses, decided to impose a forfeit.
“He gave us four hours of keepy-uppies”, Son says. “Both of us. After about three hours, I was seeing three balls. The floor was red [through bloodshot eyes]. I was so tired. And he was so angry. I think this was the best story and we still talk about it when we are all together. Four hours keeping the ball up and you don’t drop it. That’s difficult, no?”.
Son closed the interview out with one more lesson his father had taught him: this time, it was about love. “My father says this and I agree, as well,” Son says. “When you marry, the number one will be family, wife and kids, and then football. I want to make sure that while I play at the top level, football can be number one. You don’t know how long you can play at the top level. When you retire, or when you are 33 or 34, you can still have a long life with your family”.