INterview

Son Shines

In the latest issue we’ve spoken to the South Korean Spurs star about his highs and lows in the Champions League; here’s a sneak peek.

WORDS Simon Hart & Joe Terry | PHOTOGRAPHY Julian Finney

The smile. It’s always the smile. Start a conversation about Heung-Min Son and a reference to his sunny countenance will crop up at some point. It’s as inevitable as… well, the sun coming up in the morning. And with good reason – just take it from the man himself.

“When I was a child, I loved this ball,” he says. “I loved playing with this ball. Why should I not smile? Of course, I don’t want to lose, but I enjoy playing football. I love to see the stadium. I love to see the opponent. I love to see everything. I enjoy every single second, every single game, every single person coming to the stadium and watching on TV. This is my dream. Why should I not smile?”

This is a smile that has even adorned ice-cream cones back in his native South Korea. Son repeats himself as if to underline the point: “Why should I not smile? Why should I argue about something? It’s nothing, it’s nothing. I just want to smile with this ball and enjoy this moment.”

As 2019 gives way to 2020, the newly crowned AFC Asian International Player of the Year can look back on 12 months containing many moments to enjoy. On his return to north London from the year-opening Asian Cup he struck for Spurs in four consecutive games – including their opener against Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 – leading the line impressively while Harry Kane was injured. In April he hit the first Premier League goal at Tottenham’s new stadium, followed by three of their four across two legs of a Champions League quarter-final win against Manchester City.

I'll never be happy with my performance. I try to be better every single game. Especially in the champions league.
By

With another five in this season’s group stage by the end of November, that made it nine in 11 Champions League games – one goal more than Lionel Messi in the same period. Small wonder then that the 27-year-old was the highest-ranking Tottenham player in the recent Ballon d’Or vote.

It’s not been all smiles though. At the final whistle of the Champions League final on 1 June, no Spurs player looked more disconsolate. This season there have been more on-field tears, after his challenge on André Gomes in a Premier League fixture left the Everton midfielder with a fracture dislocation of his right ankle. A fresh sadness came with the November departure of Mauricio Pochettino, the manager who “brought the club to the next level”, as Son puts it – and who, moreover, was responsible for enticing him to England from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.  

“Still there is sadness when I speak about him because he brought me here, he made my dream come true,” says Son. “He gave us many, many opportunities to play here [in the] Premier League, Champions League.” It was discussions with Pochettino that eased Son’s anxiety over a difficult first campaign in England, when he only managed to make four 90-minute appearances.

Since then he has flourished. His selfless approach has ensured that he has thrived in several positions across the Spurs attack, most commonly on the left side.Not surprisingly his new manager, José Mourinho, has already declared himself a fan – he even likened him to the great Brazilian Ronaldo after a wonder goal against Burnley in the Premier League, on the same December day that he collected his AFC Player of the Year accolade.

“Before this goal my son calls him Son-aldo and today he was Son-aldo!” said Mourinho after Son had picked up the ball deep in Spurs territory and torn through half the Burnley team to score a goal that was a triumph of speed, directness, balance, composure and calm finishing. “I think it’s a bit lucky as well,” the man himself grinned afterwards. “The pitch was long!”

Read the full story
This is an extract from an article in issue
02
of Champions Journal. Get your copy to read the full story.
Get your copy
INterview

Son Shines

In the latest issue we’ve spoken to the South Korean Spurs star about his highs and lows in the Champions League; here’s a sneak peek.

WORDS Simon Hart & Joe Terry | PHOTOGRAPHY Julian Finney

The smile. It’s always the smile. Start a conversation about Heung-Min Son and a reference to his sunny countenance will crop up at some point. It’s as inevitable as… well, the sun coming up in the morning. And with good reason – just take it from the man himself.

“When I was a child, I loved this ball,” he says. “I loved playing with this ball. Why should I not smile? Of course, I don’t want to lose, but I enjoy playing football. I love to see the stadium. I love to see the opponent. I love to see everything. I enjoy every single second, every single game, every single person coming to the stadium and watching on TV. This is my dream. Why should I not smile?”

This is a smile that has even adorned ice-cream cones back in his native South Korea. Son repeats himself as if to underline the point: “Why should I not smile? Why should I argue about something? It’s nothing, it’s nothing. I just want to smile with this ball and enjoy this moment.”

As 2019 gives way to 2020, the newly crowned AFC Asian International Player of the Year can look back on 12 months containing many moments to enjoy. On his return to north London from the year-opening Asian Cup he struck for Spurs in four consecutive games – including their opener against Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 – leading the line impressively while Harry Kane was injured. In April he hit the first Premier League goal at Tottenham’s new stadium, followed by three of their four across two legs of a Champions League quarter-final win against Manchester City.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!
I'll never be happy with my performance. I try to be better every single game. Especially in the champions league.
By

With another five in this season’s group stage by the end of November, that made it nine in 11 Champions League games – one goal more than Lionel Messi in the same period. Small wonder then that the 27-year-old was the highest-ranking Tottenham player in the recent Ballon d’Or vote.

It’s not been all smiles though. At the final whistle of the Champions League final on 1 June, no Spurs player looked more disconsolate. This season there have been more on-field tears, after his challenge on André Gomes in a Premier League fixture left the Everton midfielder with a fracture dislocation of his right ankle. A fresh sadness came with the November departure of Mauricio Pochettino, the manager who “brought the club to the next level”, as Son puts it – and who, moreover, was responsible for enticing him to England from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.  

“Still there is sadness when I speak about him because he brought me here, he made my dream come true,” says Son. “He gave us many, many opportunities to play here [in the] Premier League, Champions League.” It was discussions with Pochettino that eased Son’s anxiety over a difficult first campaign in England, when he only managed to make four 90-minute appearances.

Since then he has flourished. His selfless approach has ensured that he has thrived in several positions across the Spurs attack, most commonly on the left side.Not surprisingly his new manager, José Mourinho, has already declared himself a fan – he even likened him to the great Brazilian Ronaldo after a wonder goal against Burnley in the Premier League, on the same December day that he collected his AFC Player of the Year accolade.

“Before this goal my son calls him Son-aldo and today he was Son-aldo!” said Mourinho after Son had picked up the ball deep in Spurs territory and torn through half the Burnley team to score a goal that was a triumph of speed, directness, balance, composure and calm finishing. “I think it’s a bit lucky as well,” the man himself grinned afterwards. “The pitch was long!”

INterview

Son Shines

In the latest issue we’ve spoken to the South Korean Spurs star about his highs and lows in the Champions League; here’s a sneak peek.

WORDS Simon Hart & Joe Terry | PHOTOGRAPHY Julian Finney

The smile. It’s always the smile. Start a conversation about Heung-Min Son and a reference to his sunny countenance will crop up at some point. It’s as inevitable as… well, the sun coming up in the morning. And with good reason – just take it from the man himself.

“When I was a child, I loved this ball,” he says. “I loved playing with this ball. Why should I not smile? Of course, I don’t want to lose, but I enjoy playing football. I love to see the stadium. I love to see the opponent. I love to see everything. I enjoy every single second, every single game, every single person coming to the stadium and watching on TV. This is my dream. Why should I not smile?”

This is a smile that has even adorned ice-cream cones back in his native South Korea. Son repeats himself as if to underline the point: “Why should I not smile? Why should I argue about something? It’s nothing, it’s nothing. I just want to smile with this ball and enjoy this moment.”

As 2019 gives way to 2020, the newly crowned AFC Asian International Player of the Year can look back on 12 months containing many moments to enjoy. On his return to north London from the year-opening Asian Cup he struck for Spurs in four consecutive games – including their opener against Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 – leading the line impressively while Harry Kane was injured. In April he hit the first Premier League goal at Tottenham’s new stadium, followed by three of their four across two legs of a Champions League quarter-final win against Manchester City.

I'll never be happy with my performance. I try to be better every single game. Especially in the champions league.
By

With another five in this season’s group stage by the end of November, that made it nine in 11 Champions League games – one goal more than Lionel Messi in the same period. Small wonder then that the 27-year-old was the highest-ranking Tottenham player in the recent Ballon d’Or vote.

It’s not been all smiles though. At the final whistle of the Champions League final on 1 June, no Spurs player looked more disconsolate. This season there have been more on-field tears, after his challenge on André Gomes in a Premier League fixture left the Everton midfielder with a fracture dislocation of his right ankle. A fresh sadness came with the November departure of Mauricio Pochettino, the manager who “brought the club to the next level”, as Son puts it – and who, moreover, was responsible for enticing him to England from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.  

“Still there is sadness when I speak about him because he brought me here, he made my dream come true,” says Son. “He gave us many, many opportunities to play here [in the] Premier League, Champions League.” It was discussions with Pochettino that eased Son’s anxiety over a difficult first campaign in England, when he only managed to make four 90-minute appearances.

Since then he has flourished. His selfless approach has ensured that he has thrived in several positions across the Spurs attack, most commonly on the left side.Not surprisingly his new manager, José Mourinho, has already declared himself a fan – he even likened him to the great Brazilian Ronaldo after a wonder goal against Burnley in the Premier League, on the same December day that he collected his AFC Player of the Year accolade.

“Before this goal my son calls him Son-aldo and today he was Son-aldo!” said Mourinho after Son had picked up the ball deep in Spurs territory and torn through half the Burnley team to score a goal that was a triumph of speed, directness, balance, composure and calm finishing. “I think it’s a bit lucky as well,” the man himself grinned afterwards. “The pitch was long!”

To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
close
It's your time to decide
Choose which classic final goal you would like to see in Issue 03 of Champions Journal.
Special Offers
christmas offer
Christmas CHEER
Up to 40% off
Start shopping