From cutting his teeth in the Bundesliga to reaching a consistently world-class level at Tottenham, Son Heung-min’s rise has been meteoric, but the South Korean star is not one to bask in the limelight. Surrounded by the Premier League’s glitz, glamour, and extravaganza, Son is a steadfast beacon of hard work and humility.
The Golden Boy
Inspired by his compatriots Park Ji-sung and Lee Chung-yong, Son went to Europe very young. He joined Bundesliga giant Hamburger SV at 16. Despite his tender age, it was clear that HSV had an exceptional talent on its hands. Son Heung-min broke into the side as an 18-year-old and became increasingly influential over the coming seasons, eventually moving to Bayer Leverkusen.
Fast, skillful, comfortable with both feet, and able to be utilized anywhere in the attack, he soon attracted clubs abroad. Tottenham Hotspurs snapped him up in 2015 for $33 million, a record fee for an Asian player. It is reported he currently earns £200,000 per week.
Early homesickness notwithstanding, Son Heung-min has gone from strength to strength in England. He has developed into an elite finisher, massively outperforming his expected goals this season. He has been the Premier League’s record Asian goal scorer since surpassing Park Ji-sung’s tally of 19 in late 2017.
Media Circus Around Son Heung-min
Back in his native South Korea, Son Heung-min has already transcended the levels of reverence enjoyed by the players he once idolized. Yet, such is his stardom that the media coverage of his exploits in Europe and the national team is almost nauseatingly obsessive.
From Seoul to Hamburg and from Los Angeles to London, Koreans everywhere, local or in diaspora, try to keep tabs on their golden boy. Occasionally, a few adventurous supporters travel halfway across the globe to watch him up close.
His determined work ethic and exuberant attitude make him the ideal poster boy for South Korean soccer, and even if he tries his best to avoid the spotlight, it follows him wherever he goes. Son Heung-min is undoubtedly aware of his fame, but he keeps his head down and is still keen to improve.
Football comes first, and everything else is secondary. In a business dominated by money and prominent personalities, Son Heung-min is a somewhat unconventional megastar.