“We’ve won a 6-1 victory against the “big team” at the very stadium where Park Ji-sung used to play. I feel beyond happy.”
Having netted a brace against the Manchester United on Sunday local time, Son Heung-min, the 28-year-old South Korea winger of the Tottenham Hotspur, sounded much excited. The lopsided win took place at Old Trafford, the home stadium of Park Ji-sung, the retired South Korean football legend and Son’s long-standing role model.
The multi-goal was all the more meaningful as it was Son’s first scoring against Manchester United after 11 encounters since his debut in the English Premier League. “I grew up watching Park playing on this very pitch. Naturally, I often watched the games of the Manchester United,” said Son. “I am very proud to have scored goals at this dream stadium. I am really happy.”
The two Korean footballers have a special history. It was during the AFC Asian Cup in January 2011 when they met first. Having just turned 18, Son shared the room with Park, then captain of Team Korea, playing alongside with Park in several games including the first and third group league matches and the semifinals against Japan. Though Korea lost the game in the penalty shootout, the semifinal round was Park’s last game as national team and his 100th international match. Joining him for his last game under the national flag, Son harbored the dream of succeeding him as Korean football legend.
Five years later in April 2016, Son had his first encounter with the Manchester United at Old Trafford, and he expressed respect towards Park Ji-sung on his team’s homepage. “I was such a huge fan of Park Ji-sung as a kid,” Son said. “I learned so much from him. He let the world know more about Korea, and I am working hard every day to do that too.”
Jae-Yeong Yoo firstname.lastname@example.org