Son Heung-min is the number 7 flanking striker for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League(EPL). The English Premier League(EPL) refers to the first-division English soccer league. In the 2020-2021 season, he is leading the league scoring eight goals in six rounds. . Son Heung-min has already broken several records of previous legendary Korean soccer players such as Cha Bum-geun and Park Ji-sung. He is believed to be the best player ever produced by Asia. Son Heung-min is not just rewriting the history of Korean soccer, but of Asian soccer as well Asia. How did Son Heung-min grow into a world class soccer player? His career may shed some light on this legend.
Son Heung-min was born on July 8, 1992 in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do. His father was Son Woong-jung, a former soccer player. Son Heung-min’s father taught him soccer from a young age. By chance, he was selected for a study-abroad program of the Korea Football Association and joined the Hamburg SV Youth Team in the Bundesliga. The Bundesliga refers to the first-division German soccer league. Later, at the age of 18, he joined the Hamburg SV first string. After joining the first string, Son Heung-min's debut goal broke the record for Hamburg SV's youngest goal. In addition, he was included as part of the 11 best Hamburg SV of all-time with 20 goals and 3 assists in 78 games during the 2010-2013 seasons in Hamburg SV. Later, he transferred to the Bundesliga, Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Son Heung-min signed a five-year contract to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in 2013 and broke the record for the highest transfer fee for Bayer 04 Leverkusen. That year, Son Heung-min's performance allowed Bayer 04 Leverkusen to advance to the Champions League. He had scored more than 10 goals each year for three years at Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Then, Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League(EPL) wanted Son Heung-min. On August 28, 2015, Son Heung-min joined Tottenham Hotspur. At the time, the transfer fee of 30 million euros broke the record for the highest transfer fee for Asian players. After the transfer, Son Heung-min did not meet expectations in Tottenham Hotspur in the 2015-2016 season. The style of soccer played in the German league greatly differs from the English league. In German style football, which focuses on counter-attacking, Son Heung-min's fast speed and good kicks worked well. However, he was unable to adapt to the style of British football which values build-ups and strong pressure.
At this time, Son Heung-min hoped to return to the Bundesliga again and almost transferred to VfL Wolfsburg. However, Pochettino, then Tottenham Hotspur's coach, persuaded Son Heung-min to remain on the team. Due to continued effort, Son Heung-min began to unlock his potential in the 2016-2017 season. He played well with 21 goals and 7 assists in 47 games. In the 2016-2017 season, Son Heung-min broke the record for the most goals(121 goals) as an Asian in the European first division, which was previously held by Cha Bum-geun. In recognition of these achievements, he was awarded the “EPL Player of the Month” in April and September. He is the first Asian to win the "EPL Player of the Month" twice.
In the 2018-2019 season, he surprised the fans with a 50m solo breakthrough goal against Chelsea FC. Also, he scored three goals in two matches against Manchester City FC in the Champions League quarterfinal. With Son Heung-min's performance, Tottenham Hotspur was able to advance to the semi-final. Tottenham Hotspur made it to the Champions League semi-final for the first time in 57 years. Afterward, Tottenham Hotspur advanced to the Champions League final. In the 2018-2019 season, Son Heung-min achieved a career-high with 20 goals and 10 assists in 48 games. Based on this performance, Son Heung-min was awarded the title of “Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Year & Goal of the Year” and the “London Football Awards Player of the Year”.
In the 19-20 season, Son Heung-min scored an 83m Wonder Goal in the 16R Burnley FC match. With a dribble starting near the Tottenham Hotspur camp penalty box, he sprinted 83m and beat all defenders to score a goal. This was EPL's longest personal dribbling record and the second-longest solo dribbling goal in football history. In the 2019-2020 season, Son Heung-min became the 7th player to score 10 goals and 10 assists in the five major soccer league. Players who scored 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2019-2020 season included Messi of FC Barcelona, Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City FC and Serge Gnabry of FC Bayern Munich. From this time onwards, Son Heung-min began to be recognized as a world-class wing forward.
Son Heung-min is growing more and more skilled every season. He has overcome his shortcomings, such as movement without the ball and movement offside. In addition, his skills in dribbling, fast speed, and shooting with both feet are at their peak. Son Heung-min is challenging the EPL scorer this season. It remains to be seen if he will remain a football legend being beyond the key player of Tottenham Hotspur.
By Seo Seong-il, reporter email@example.com
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