When Hamburg scouts flew to South Korea in 2008, they hardly expected to find a South Korean school boy who would eventually turn into a first team striker. But in Heung-Min Son they did and quickly signed him up to their youth academy before others could beat them to it. Having agreed to make the move to Germany, an undaunted Son embarked on a mission to show his new team exactly what he could do and over the past five years has done exactly that. Possessing blistering pace, close control and the ability to use both feet to strike the ball with power and accuracy, it’s no wonder the Hamburg scouts were keen to get ink onto a contract. Some five years on and Heung-Min Son has gone on to establish himself in the Hamburg first team. Son has received praise from fans, media and former players alike with comparisons being made to South Korean legend Cha Bum-Kun and even German legend Gerd Muller. At only 20 years of age, Heung-Min Son has the rest of his career ahead of him but if this season is any indication, he looks like following Cha Bum-Kun and former Manchester United star Park Ji Sung into the South Korean legends category as well.
Since 2010, Son has been a part of the South Korean national team and has played 12 times to date, scoring only 1 goal so far. The striker would have had more caps for his country, even at his tender age, but his determination to repay Hamburg for the faith and support they have shown him since they brought him to the club as a 16-year-old, has led the player to turn down some international call ups. Indeed Son turned down the opportunity to join his countrymen in London for last years Olympic Games, instead preferring to spend the summer weeks preparing himself mentally and physically for the forthcoming Bundesliga campaign with Hamburg:
“In Korea, an Olympic appearance has a special meaning, but I want to speed up for Hamburg. What matters is to pour all my time into team training”
His decision to do so has paid off handsomely for Hamburg as Son is having the best season of his career yet scoring 7 times in 19 appearances. Last year’s total five goals has already been surpassed and if his form continues, his goals will help Hamburg’s push for a top half finish. Son has also seen the benefits of his decision as he has begun to start more games this year than in previous campaigns, where he was used more from the bench. With his fine performances comes increased attention from larger clubs across Europe including Inter Milan and more recently Tottenham. It will only be a matter of time before a club decides to match the $12 million asking price that Hamburg have placed on the head of their talented young striker. Until that happens, Hamburg will enjoy watching their player flourish and grow into a star and so far have had glimpses of what is to come.
In a recent mid-season friendly match between Hamburg and Austrian side, Austria Vienna, Heung-Min Son showcased to watching scouts exactly what he can do. Picking the ball up midway within his own half, Son drove the ball up field using a combination of close footwork and pace before reaching the opposition box. Slowing his pace slightly he looked up to see that Austria Vienna goalkeeper off his line before unleashing an unstoppable shot with his left foot high into the right hand corner of the net to put Hamburg a goal up. The home crowd inside the Imtech Arena erupted in appreciation for their new star striker who capped a fine performance by setting up Hamburg’s second goal in their 2-0 win.
With players like Heung-Min Son coming through their youth ranks, the future looks bright for South Korea as they push to be the dominant country in Asian football. South Korea have qualified for every World Cup since 1986 and are looking to maintain that run into Brazil 2014 and beyond, a task which looks achievable if they can get Son’s club form to brush off on his international form and start banging in the goals for his country.
To see Heung-Min Son latest strike, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APftNbkLN4c