On September 13, 2015, a legend began.
The young man who left Leverkusen for Tottenham for €30 million, the highest transfer fee ever for an Asian player at the time, became the ‘face of Tottenham’. The rest, as they say, is history. Wearing the number 7 shirt, Son ushered in a new era for Tottenham. In 377 games, he scored 148 goals and provided 80 assists. This is the story of ‘Tottenham’s captain’ Son Heung-min.
On the 13th (KST), Tottenham announced on their official social media that “Today in 2015. Son Heung-min made his debut in the Premier League,” along with a picture of Son making his debut in the fifth round of the 2015-2016 English Premier League (EPL) away match against Sunderland. Heung-min played 62 minutes of the game, making his EPL debut. Although he didn’t score, it was a promising start. Tottenham went on to win the game 1-0 thanks to a Ryan Mason goal. Fans commented on the post with praise, saying, “The day Tottenham won the lottery,” “He’s our tactician,” “Our proud captain,” and “One of the best wingers of all time.
After a slow start to his first season in 2015-2016, Son burst onto the scene the following year in 2016-2017. Playing alongside Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Christian Eriksen in a back four, Son used his blistering pace and powerful shot to become the focal point of Tottenham’s offense. From 2016-2017 to last season, he scored double-digit goals in seven consecutive seasons. Since the inception of the EPL in 1992, only 11 players have scored 10 or more goals in seven consecutive seasons. Only legends like Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Sergio Aguero, and Thierry Henry have done it. Son Heung-min made history in the 2021-2022 season. With 23 goals, he became the first Asian player to win the title. It was such a remarkable event that Lee Young-pyo, the former head coach of Gangwon, called it “as historic as man walking on the moon.”
Son Heung-min’s performance propelled Tottenham out of the mid-table and into the big leagues. Spurs finished as league runners-up in the 2016-2017 season and reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history in 2018-2019. Tottenham has now grown to a level where they can compete in the EPL and consistently qualify for the Champions League.
Son has been recognized for his performances and has established himself as the face of Tottenham. Son was named captain of Tottenham, a position vacated by the departures of Joris and Kane. Maddison and Cristian Romero are the new vice-captains. Son becomes the second Korean to captain the EPL. Prior to Son, the first Korean to be named an official captain in the EPL was Jeonbuk Hyundai Technical Director Park Ji-sung. Park first officially captained Queens Park Rangers (QPR) in the 2012-2013 season after leaving Manchester United. It was the first Korean captain in 11 years.
“It’s a great honor to be captain of this huge team,” said Son. It’s a big surprise and a very proud moment. I have already told all the players that they should feel the responsibility of being captain, both on and off the field. A new season is coming, and it’s a new beginning. I will give everything for this jersey and the captain’s armband,” he said, expressing his feelings and intentions on becoming captain.
“He’s already shown great leadership on and off the field,” said head coach Enze Postecoglou. That’s why he was the ideal choice to captain our team. Everyone knows he’s world-class, and he already has a lot of respect in the locker room. He fits in with every group on the team. It’s not just because he’s popular, it’s because he’s accomplished so much as a captain for Tottenham and the South Korean national team.”
Postecoglou’s appointment of Heung-min Son as captain of the South Korean national team was somewhat predictable in the preseason. Postecoglou recognized Son’s leadership qualities early on. “I’m looking forward to working with Heung-min,” he said, “I think he’s one of those players who shows the qualities of a true leader.” “To me, he’s like a conduit for the whole team. He’s in every group, and I don’t think it’s just because he’s popular, he has a certain standing because of what he’s done on the field.” “It’s great to see the impact he has on the group, and I’m not surprised that his influence is so great because I know he’s been a leader for his country, an icon for his country. He has a tremendous amount of respect among the players.”
Postecoglou also spoke about the captaincy at the pre-match press conference on November 11: “I have already decided, but I can’t tell you now. The selection will take place tomorrow, and we’ll see how the players will react after the captaincy.” In the end, it was Son Heung-min.
He showed his captain’s class early on. Son had a special idea for the opening game against Brentford. In his first game wearing the captain’s armband, Tottenham set up a scrum before kickoff in front of the away end, where the Tottenham fans were seated instead of the usual center. The players started the game with the energy of the fans. The idea came from Son Heung-min. Vice-captain James Maddison told Football London: “Heung-min sent me a message last night saying he had an idea. It was to go to the stands instead of the middle of the pitch. It was good to show that we were all in this together. The fans would have appreciated our scrum.”
“It was the first game of the season,” said Son Heung-min. We usually play in the center of the field, but I thought the fans were one of the most important parts of this season, so I suggested to the players that we go to the front of the field to show them that we are united.” “The players liked it and accepted it, so we were able to do it. It’s not just my will, it’s something that the players have to agree to.” Although it didn’t lead to a victory, the way he thought about the fans and the team made him a worthy captain.
Not only that, but he’s also in top form. The left winger, who has averaged more key passes per game than any other player on the team, has transformed into a frontline striker and shown off his creativity. Son exploded for a hat trick against Burnley on March 3 at Turf Moor in Burnley, England. It was Son’s first hat trick in the league this season. Heung-min, who had previously played the role of a helper, showed off his decisiveness as soon as he turned into a finisher. Heung-min’s brilliance helped Tottenham to a 5-2 victory. Spurs (3-1-1) are now unbeaten in their opening four games. Tottenham’s new manager, Enze Postecoglou, joins Harry Redknapp, Tim Sherwood and Antonio Conte with 10 points from their opening four games. The 5-2 victory was their biggest away win on goal difference since a 6-1 win over Manchester United in October 2020.
A relay of praise for Son Heung-min followed. He was named to the Team of the Week by the BBC and the EPL Secretariat. He topped the Daily Mail’s EPL weekly power rankings. “Heung-min is back,” said Joleon Lescott and Jermaine Jenas. “He’s back, and he’s even more amazing now that he’s been given responsibility.
The British press was also full of praise. “It’s no surprise that Heung-Min Son has taken on the Tottenham captaincy, but some are still shocked at how effortlessly he has taken to the armband,” said Football London. ‘Son was one of the favorites to become the next captain, with Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane leaving the club. He is the captain of the South Korean national team, one of Tottenham’s longest-serving players and their biggest star.” “However, there was still some surprise within Tottenham about Son becoming captain. He was the most popular and respected by everyone at Tottenham, but not many people saw him as a leader. In fact, he hasn’t been part of the leadership group of Joris, Kane, Eric Dier, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg for a few years now, so there was a sense of surprise when manager Enzi Postecoglou announced Son as captain and vice-captains Christian Romero and James Maddison. All three players said they were surprised because they weren’t told beforehand.
‘He even asked politely if he should give a speech 안전놀이터,’ said Football London. He spoke about the upcoming season and the need and importance of training. The pride was clear and the smile on his face was infectious. Postecoglou believes that leadership can come from anywhere, and in particular, he wanted the dressing room to be a space for the players, a place where they can lead the team to success. “He’s done a great job leading the team in Kane’s absence. He has never been a captain at club level, but he has already answered Postecoglou’s trust. He has gone from being a popular player to an active leader. In the opening match against Brentford, he took the players to the front of the Tottenham fans. It was his idea that got the fans excited. He is establishing himself as the leader that Spurs and Postecoglou needed. The interaction and responsibility he has shown has impressed the members of Tottenham.
Tottenham celebrated its 141st anniversary on Friday on the club’s website. “September 5, 1882. As legend has it, Tottenham Grammar School and Hotspur Cricket Club met under the gaslights of Tottenham High Road to form a football club called ‘Hotspur’. Today, 141 years later, the founding members look back at the club’s history, including its founding, first game, white heart train, FA Cup win, and top flight title, with the caption, “Who would have thought a world-class stadium would stand in its place?” followed by a graphic celebrating the club’s 141st anniversary, with Son Heung-min at the center of it all. He was featured alongside the likes of Kane, Robbie Keane, Ledley King, Jermain Defoe, and Gareth Bale.
At the same time, the video shows all the hat-tricks Son has completed with the comment “5 hat-tricks in a Tottenham shirt! Enjoy all the hat-tricks Son Heung-min has scored!”. The video has been garnering a lot of buzz as his teammates congratulate him. With the added responsibility of being the second EPL Asian captain after Park Ji-sung, Son is spreading his wings in Postecoglou’s attacking style of play. It’s Son Heung-min’s time once again. It started on September 13, 2015.