Son Jun-ho, 30, who is playing for the Shandong Taishan in the Chinese Super League (CSL), has become the icing on the cake in the heyday of Korean footballers born in 1992, such as Song Heung-min, Hwang Ui-jo, and Lee Jae-sung. Shandong drew 1:1 with Changchun Yatai in season’s final match on Tuesday, overtaking Shanghai Haigang with 51 points to win the CSL title. The Chinese club achieved the feat in 11 years since 2010. Son enjoyed the joy of winning after playing full-time for 90 minutes.
Son, who was chosen as the most valuable player (MVP) by leading Jeongbuk’s fourth consecutive K League 1 victory in 2020, hit the jackpot once again in his first year of transfer. As a holding midfielder, Son showed flawless leadership both in defense and offense in 20 games. At critical moments, he saved the team several times by scoring points (four goals, six assists). While making the most assists in his team, Son scored an equalizer against Beijing Gouan (2:1) on Dec. 16, which was a decisive game for Shandong, and scored a final goal against Shanghai Haigang (2:0) on Dec. 19.
Nicknamed ‘maestro’ back when he played for Jeonbuk, Son displayed his ability to dominate the midfield in the Chinese league. He stood out in his selection of position to block the opponent’s passing routes and ability to block the movement of second-line attackers. Running 12 kilometers per game, Son perfectly struck a balance between offense and defense of the team. In the 4-2-3-1 formation, his teammate and midfielder Marouane Fellaini was able to participate in offense thanks to Son. The Belgian star, who played for Manchester United in the English Premier League (EPL), scored 10 goals (5th in season’s most goals) with the help of Son.
Son is highly likely to win the CSL MVP for the first time as a Korean player, who also won MVP in K League. Chinese web portal Sina.com predicted that Son will take the MVP title, saying there is no doubt that Son is the best player in the CLS and he has done everything he can as a midfielder.
Son has received less attention compared to Son Heung-min, Hwang Ui-jo, and Lee Jae-sung, whose value skyrocketed in Europe, but he has built an outstanding career in Korea and China with his devoted performance.
Jae-Yeong Yoo firstname.lastname@example.org