Son Heung-min’s 2018 has been a staggering year for someone faced with one of the most unique scenarios a Premier League footballer is ever likely to experience.
Tottenham Hotspur walked away from the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening with a newfound sense of local superiority, courtesy of goals from Son and Dele Alli. Son was the man who struck first blood in the north London derby with an accurately arrowed effort beyond Peter Cech.
Fittingly, Son was not only the man to make the first major impact of the game, but he was the last player to leave the field – complete with a South Korea flag draped on his shoulders – after celebrating with the travelling supporters, a pair of noteworthy moments which underlined his importance both on and off the field.
Rewind just a few weeks into the past and a damning reminder of how close Tottenham were to losing Son to mandatory military service isn’t hard to find. The scenario was a dreaded one for all parties concerned, but Son eventually stood up in the face of adversity and played a pivotal role as his nation won gold at the Asia Games.
As a new dawn lingers on the horizon with 2019 just round the corner,The Guardian have taken time to reflect on the year of 2018 by producing a list of the 100 best male footballers of the year, an esteemed list which saw Son rank in 78th position.
And The Guardian journalist David Hytner had this to say about Son’s impact this year: ‘Low maintenance, high-energy crowd favourite, Son is arguably the biggest football star in Asia. Leaves everything out on the pitch and has become a consistent goal threat, finishing last season with 18 in all competitions for Spurs.’
In a few short words Hytner manages to encapsulate the core components of Son’s game, most notably his exemplary attitude and determination to please the supporters with his diligent approach and dead-eyed killer instinct in the final-third.
Within a squad containing Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane and even Lucas Moura it can be difficult to stand out, but the 72-time capped international is truly a unique talent with an unrivalled blend of qualities.
Considering everything he has achieved in 2018, his place in 78th on the list seems rather unjust, especially when a quick glance upwards details Marcos Alonso and Leonard Bonucci occupying the places directly above him.
But at the end of a watershed year in his career, Son will not care too much about his rank on the list; all that really matters is the quality of his form at Tottenham which, in recent weeks, has been close to his scintillating best.
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