As one of many Premier League’s most enjoyable and likeable gamers, it’s straightforward to overlook that Heung-Min Son has a drive and willpower many people would crave.
Let’s not overlook his journey to England started as a 16-year-old, making the daring determination to maneuver midway internationally to Germany to hitch Hamburger SV’s youth set-up.
It was a world away from his house in South Korea. He needed to adapt to a wholly totally different language, tradition and continent, as Son chased his dream of reaching the Premier League.
Trying again now as a 29-year-old, would Son do all of it once more?
In an unique interview with Sky Sports activities, he mentioned: “It was a troublesome time, but when I went again to once I was 16, I’d have doubts, however I’d do the identical factor. I am so happy with this selection and making this determination.
“It was laborious and scary clearly. 16 years outdated, shifting away out of your dad and mom to a distinct nation, a distinct langue, a distinct tradition. However in my head, there was just one factor and that was to coach in Europe and work in the direction of my dream.
“My dream was to play within the Premier League so once I moved to Germany, I felt prefer it was going to be robust, however I needed to get by means of it as a result of my dream was getting shut. That is what I used to be pondering once I was 16.
“Even by means of the robust occasions, there have been additionally good occasions. I learnt German and English and I’m so pleased with this stuff. There have been so many issues, totally different tradition and totally different individuals, but it surely was a terrific expertise.”
Dwelling in Europe, soccer followers are indulged with the perfect gamers and membership groups on the planet, together with the zeal that surrounds them. However that zeal is simply as keenly felt half a world away, with Son the figurehead for Asian illustration in soccer.
The Tottenham ahead was the primary Asian participant in historical past to attain greater than 50 objectives within the Premier League, and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2019, ending twenty second among the many 30 nominees – the best end achieved by an Asian participant. On the time of his £22m transfer to Spurs in 2015, he was additionally the costliest Asian participant in historical past.
Lots of Tottenham’s video games even have Asian followers, particularly there to observe Son play, whereas tens of millions watch again at house. It is fairly the burden of expectation, however Son thinks he has unlocked the thriller of his enduring reputation.
“I do not really feel the stress, however I do really feel duty,” he mentioned.
“I simply wish to present good issues to the individuals again house and in Asia as a result of lots of people are watching me, watching Premier League gamers, however why ought to I’ve stress with this? I do what I like, I ought to get pleasure from each second.
“That is why they like me as a result of I get pleasure from enjoying soccer, I am completely happy. I’ve an enormous duty with this, however I do not really feel the stress. I do what I like and I wish to present that.”
Life below Nuno and signing a brand new Spurs deal
It has been a turbulent few months at Tottenham. Jose Mourinho was dismissed in April, with former Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason taking on the reigns because the membership completed seventh within the Premier League.
The recruitment for Mourinho’s successor flitted between managers throughout the continent, with a couple of close to misses, earlier than selecting ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. Nuno has overseen an unbeaten pre-season – including Sunday’s north London derby in the Mind Series, with Son scoring the winning goal – in addition to some strong switch enterprise.
“I’ve actually loved it,” Son mentioned of his new supervisor, Nuno. “It is solely been a few weeks with the supervisor, however there was actually good, optimistic coaching. I am wanting ahead to working with him this season so I hope we might help the supervisor and he might help us, so it will possibly come from either side.
“We’re wanting optimistic, he appears optimistic so I feel when you’ve got a optimistic mentality within the altering room and on the pitch, that is so necessary. I feel we’ve this positivity for the time being so it is good to see.
“The main focus for us has been pre-season. Everybody is aware of what they should do and we’re working laborious to try to enhance. Pre-season is the time to work and that is why everyone seems to be doing actually good, working laborious, enjoying video games. The blokes are wanting actually optimistic and completely happy in order that’s crucial factor.
“Everybody ought to be prepared for each sport. There’s a likelihood in each sport, we all know how necessary that’s. If you happen to’re not targeted and prepared for each sport, you are going to wrestle in order that’s why in pre-season we’re working actually laborious to try to make it as straightforward as attainable for the approaching season. We wish to give attention to game-by-game to attempt to win and on the finish of the season, we’ll see the place we end.”
Son’s optimistic outlook has absolutely been boosted by the signing of a brand new four-year Tottenham contract. If he sees out the deal till 2025, it’ll mark a decade at Spurs and it is clear Son has discovered a cheerful house in north London.
He added: “I did not anticipate to type out the contract so early as a result of I had a few years left. They confirmed how a lot they love me, I’ve already performed six years right here, however they offer me a lot and I wished to present one thing again.
“I am so grateful to be right here, it is an honour to play for this membership. One other 4 years, I feel we will obtain nice issues.
“Sure [would like to spend a decade at Spurs], if I can keep for one more 4 years and soccer isn’t promised, so let’s examine. That is why I signed as a result of I do not wish to transfer once more elsewhere.
“I might be right here for ten years or greater than ten years, you by no means know what is going on to occur sooner or later, however I attempt to be targeted day by day, I attempt to enhance day by day and each single season. I feel that the mindset is extra necessary than the testimonial after 10 years.”
The 2020/21 season, for all its eccentricities, was Son’s finest for objectives scored, and second for assists – one behind his tally from the earlier marketing campaign. He additionally set a brand new file with Harry Kane, with the pair recording probably the most objective mixtures in a single Premier League season (14).
However regardless of the numbers, the 29-year-old is continually trying to enhance.
“I do not assume it was my finest season, subsequent season is coming quickly and I’ll maintain going,” he mentioned. “I attempt to enhance on every part as a result of I nonetheless wish to study and enhance myself as a result of I simply wish to win.
“I hate dropping. That is why I am attempting to enhance every part, and I feel you will need to enhance my mindset day by day. I’ve the possibility to enhance day by day so I attempt to be open, trustworthy and to be a great instance on the pitch and off the pitch.”
Beginning the season with Man Metropolis
Premier League openers don’t come a lot greater than going through reigning champions Manchester Metropolis on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The pair have had some wealthy current historical past too, final assembly within the Carabao Cup last in April.
It ought to be a sport that piques Son’s curiosity, having scored within the final three house video games in opposition to Man Metropolis in all competitions. However as ever for the winger, he needs to benefit from the event as a lot as attainable.
“I all the time sit up for enjoying Man Metropolis,” he mentioned. “They seem to be a huge group, and I’d say top-of-the-line groups on the planet.
“I can not wait, it is simply having enjoyable. They’re a great group, with good gamers and it will be enjoyable. I can not promise we’ll win, however I can solely promise I’ll do my finest to win the sport.”
For a participant who made big sacrifices to reside his Premier League dream, it is no shock Son usually has his trademark smile, and you’d be laborious pushed to take away it any time quickly.
The Premier League is again! New signings, new groups, outdated rivalries resumed and contemporary hope, all to the candy sound of full stadiums. Kate Burlaga is joined by Nick Wright and Gerard Model to preview one other 9 months of drama within the high flight.
PART 1: Are Metropolis nonetheless the facet to beat? And who will problem them? Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool assessed
PART 2: Will the north London gloom raise? Leicester in focus and shock package deal: Leeds, Aston Villa and Everton tipped
PART 3: How will promoted trio Brentford, Watford and Norwich fare? Plus: New managers assessed, and might West Ham cope with European distraction?