Son Heung-min has been flying down the wing for Tottenham Hotspur for what seems like a lifetime in modern football. There is no doubt by anyone’s standard, Son is one to watch for Korea in any competition they enter. He was in the news this week for being inconsolable after a cup final loss to Manchester City, nearing the age of 30 Son is nearing the end of his prime, let’s look at his journey to the London Club, it certainly is anything but the standard.
Son started his professional journey far from where he grew up in Chuncheon, Gangwon, South Korea, with Hamburger SV at the age of 16. Playing with them for most of his youth career until he signed his first professional contract with the club in 2010. That same year he got his first cap for the South Korean first team and has since scored 26 goals in 89 appearances.
At Hamburger, his performances in his Bundasliga debut seasons gained enough attention to attract transfer offers, seeing him ultimately end up with Bayern Leverkusen for a reported ten million Euros. . In his final full Bundasliga season he scored 17 goals in 42 matches, an amazing goal rate for a winger. That season got Tottenham’s attention and they paid 30 million Euros for the Korean Star. Son’s accomplishments alone are amazing, but when you consider his constant battle to try and avoid mandatory Military service makes it that much more impressive.
In South Korea, all men are conscripted into the military and must perform compulsory military service, anywhere from 18 to 36 months depending on the branch. To avoid this Son had to win an international title with his national team. In 2014 he asked to leave Leverkusen, but the club denied his request. With only a few years left until he would have to be conscripted in 2018 Son went with South Korea to the 2018 Asian games and won the gold medal. This guaranteed that Son could keep playing for Spurs, and more importantly, keep blessing our television screens and social media timelines with goals like this.