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Son to face off his role model Ronaldo

Posted August. 30, 2021 07:29,   

Updated August. 30, 2021 07:29


Son Heung-min (29) is set to stage dream-like showdowns with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (36), who was his own role model, at the English Premier League.

Manchester United FC said Saturday in its official website that it signed a contract to recruit Cristiano Ronaldo. Manchester are set to pay Juventus FC 12.8 million pounds (17.54 million U.S. dollars) in transfer fee to bring back the superstar and the archrival of Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain FC). Ronaldo, who transferred from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United in 2003 at the age of 18 and played there through 2009 to emerge as a global star, is returning to EPL for the first time in 12 years.

The Portuguese’s move will add to motivation for Son. When young, Son was fascinated by Ronaldo, who was playing with Manchester United when Son was a promising footballer, and made his mind to become a world-class soccer player like Ronaldo. Son made his debut in the European big league of the German Bundesliga at age 18 like Ronaldo by joining Hamburg FC, and has earned the nickname ‘Son-naldo’ by displaying plays similar to Ronaldo’s.  

“I like the way Ronaldo plays soccer,” Son said in an interview with fans, which was organized by the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) in 2015. “Ronaldo was my role model since I was young,” he told an interview with Motorgraph,’ a YouTube channel specializing in automobiles in September last year. When asked who he wished to meet if he was given only 5 minutes during an interview with Amazon Prime Video Sports, an over-the-top (OTT) media service, in January this year, he again replied “I wish to meet with Ronaldo. I wish to have sincere dialogue about things like how he trains,” displaying his royalty as a fan.  

Chances are high that Son and Ronaldo will have their first showdown on October 31 when their teams will hold their first match. The two players have only faced off in two matches. When Ronaldo played full-time at the group qualifying round for the 2017-2018 season of the UEFA Champions League when Ronaldo was playing for Real Madrid FC, Son played with the former for about four minutes after he was fielded as substitute at 44th minute in the second half. In 2019 when Ronaldo was playing for Juventus, the two had a showdown for 45 minutes in the first half at the International Champions Cup, a pre-season exhibition match. Son and Ronaldo switched their jerseys after the end of the first half.

While playing for Manchester United, Ronaldo scored 118 goals at 292 matches, and led the team to win the league title three times and the UEFA Champions League title once.

Jae-Yeong Yoo elegant@donga.com