On Thursday, Son Heung-Min was honored for the season he has been having so far.
Sonny was named Premier League Player of the Year at the London Football Awards. Mauricio Pochettino took home the Manager of the Year award at the same event.
Spurs’ South Korean star has had quite the season, but things weren’t always going swimmingly for him at Tottenham.
Son told Dan Kilpatrick of the Evening Standard about his early struggles at Spurs, and how Pochettino helped him continue to try and achieve his dreams in English football.
“I came close to leaving. I went to the gaffer’s office and told him I didn’t feel comfortable and wanted to leave for Germany ... The gaffer trusted me and I am so grateful. He made my dream come true. I am more than grateful [to him] — it is difficult to say. I have worked four years with the gaffer. It is just amazing ... I think I am the most happiest guy in the world, especially in the Premier League. It is an honour to play in the Premier League. When I see this award, I know I can’t sleep tonight.”
Thankfully, Son put his head down and continued to work hard. His request to leave was obsolete before long, as he started really making his mark on the team.
This season, Son has managed 11 goals and 5 assists in 17 Premier League starts. He has done this despite an insane amount of traveling for his various obligations with the South Korean national team.
Pochettino also spoke in the piece about what it took for Son to emerge from those initial struggles as a better player.
“The adaptation is always so difficult,” Pochettino said. “Today, patience in football is difficult. But always it is about time. You can learn a lot from these difficult moments. The conversation [with Son] was not only professional, it was human. Sonny was patient. He was happy with the decision and now we are seeing his best form. People love him, team-mates, fans. It is very easy to work with him. He is very professional, he is a happy boy that translates that energy to the team. His potential and skill are amazing.”
“Happy boy” may be the perfect way to describe Sonny. If the London Football Awards had given out a prize for Best Smile, it would’ve been a travesty had it gone to anyone other than him.
But now there are new tasks at hand. Spurs have lost two in a row in the Premier League and are now facing a fight to hang on to their positioning in the top four. Tomorrow’s North London Derby is basically a must-win for Tottenham.
Son hasn’t been as great since Harry Kane returned from injury, but he seems eager for the squad to put their recent issues behind them with a big performance this weekend.
“The last two games weren’t what we expect but it has passed. Arsenal is important because, after two losses, we need to show our character. For our fans as well, we have to make them happy and show how good we are. We don’t have to worry about it, we just have to enjoy [playing] on the pitch and show what we can. We don’t have to be negative after these two games. We have to just show again what we can do. There are 10 more games. We try to get as many points as possible, then we will see what happens.”
Son played a big role the last time Spurs played Arsenal. He scored the first goal in a 2-0 victory at the Emirates in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals.
The 26-year-old celebrated that goal by grabbing the badge on his kit and showing it to the thousands of Arsenal fans who were screaming abuse at the man who had just put their team behind. It’s not unusual for Sonny to celebrate like that, which is part of the reason he is so beloved by the fans. He shows a passion for the game, and for the club, that not everyone does.
Hopefully he will have another chance to celebrate tomorrow at Wembley during the 198th North London Derby.