South Korean fever, trained by his strict father Son, served in the army and is a fan of Brazilian football | international football

When talking to people living in South Korea, and when Son Heung-min strikers question the country’s idolatry, it is common to hear the same definition:

– This is Neymar.

Walking through the streets of the capital city of Seoul in just a few days, it’s easy to see why. The Brazilian’s parallelism is justified not only by the technical quality and importance of the national team, but also by the media power of the player. Like Neymar, Son is one of the biggest poster boys in his country.

A star of advertising campaigns for brands in different segments, Son has a stamped face on posters, electronic signs, TV commercials and even refrigerators in Korean stores. Speaking English and German, in addition to her mother tongue, helped her become an international pop star.

According to Forbes magazine, the English Tottenham player earns $ 16.2 million a year from sponsorships, close to R $ 80 million.

– Brazil has many stars, only us. He is good on and off the field, he is a nice person, he always smiles and he loves children, says Ju Seong Park Sports Reporter.

Billboard with the image of the Son of South Korea – Photo: Bruno Cassucci

Picture of son in a Korean store fridge – Photo: Bruno Cassucci

Tottenham, the club that Son has played for since 2015, is riding this wave. The English team has four official assistants and nine partners to supply licensed products in South Korea. In addition, Spurs are the only ones to broadcast all the games on pay-TV in the country – the rest of the Premier League teams have to pay for a paid service.

Next month, Tottenham will play two pre-season friendly matches in Seoul, with Son as the main attraction.

Everyone wants to see the idol, which helps the fact that almost 67,000 tickets for the friendly between South Korea and Brazil have sold out in just a few minutes. The teams will face each other at 8:00 am (Brazilian time) this Thursday at the World Cup Stadium. With balloon, sportv and live broadcast ge.

Her son will face some of the athletes she admires and a T-shirt she learned to respect from a very young age:

– Knows many Brazilian players working in Europe. Sometimes we talk about them and we also talk about the games that Son played against Seleção. He is a great admirer of Brazilian players, not only for those who are active, but also for those who have already retired, says Lucas Moura, a South Korean Tottenham teammate.

Son wearing Brazilian team jersey in 2019 after a friendly – Photo: Eurasia Sport Images / Getty Images

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The national team match is a valuable opportunity for South Korea to follow closely the idol that left the country at a very young age at 16 years old.

After moving from FC Seoul’s youth level, Son moved from Germany to Hamburg when he was just 16 years old in a project by the Korean Football Association to take the country’s athletes abroad.

Until then, he was a humble player who had adapted to his father’s rigid training, the former player whose career was cut short by injuries. According to reports, the boy had to work for up to ten hours every day, during which he had to repeat the dribbles, passes and submissions in a rigorous manner.

– His father was tough and he was subject to an “old school” preparation, with hundreds of repetitions. But it helped him develop. At a young age, Son was not famous here. It became a star in Europe years later, according to Kim Jungyong, a First Division journalist.

A few decades after his father’s rigorous training, Son returned to an environment that required extreme discipline and attention: the army.

Due to a South Korean law, the player had to take part in military training in 2020 in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was a three-week activity in which he learned fighting techniques, first aid, and the notions of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons in Jeju, an island in the south of the country, along with 157 other recruits. Son received an honorary diploma and an award for his work.

– We talked about the experience of military training, he said it was a difficult time, he slept there early and woke up early, he could not speak at a certain time. He shared a room with eight or ten people and after a while everyone had to sleep, he couldn’t pick up his cell phone – says Lucas Moura.

In South Korea, men must serve in the Armed Forces for two years, and must complete their registration by the time they turn 27. For footballers, it’s possible to win the exception, which Son did in 2018, when he won the Asian Games. However, despite this prerogative, he still had a short period of one month’s military service. He could have been released if he had won an Olympic medal, and he didn’t.

Son, South Korean striker in military training – Photo: Disclosure / South Korean Marines

sense of responsibility

The Tottenham striker is experiencing the best moment of his career, having been the top scorer in England’s last league with Liverpool’s Salah. They scored 23 goals in 35 games.

Celebrated when he arrived in Korea last week, Son ignored his club’s performance and focused on the national team:

– I feel responsible for the choice. Winning the Premier League top scorer award was not an achievement for the national team. There is another role here, ”said the striker.

– I will play Korean after a long time. I’m looking forward to four games, “he said, referring to the duels against Chile, Paraguay and Egypt.

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