One of the greatest things about professional sports is that it is a meritocracy. Where an athlete grew up, what they look like, or which language they natively speak are details that pale in comparison to questions that address talent, work ethic and skill. Players who deserve an opportunity to show what they can do are not often left on the bench for very long, since winning and performance is paramount.
Son Heung-Min has spent the last several years proving to global football fans that he deserves to be mentioned as one of the elite players in the sport. The South Korean born Tottenham striker has been one of the most lethal scoring options for a little while, but his performance this past campaign made history.
He scored 23 goals in 2021-2022 Premier League play, tying him with Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah for the lead. The Golden Boot award is given each year to the league’s highest scoring player, meaning Son and Salah share the honor for the recently completed season.
This is especially notable for Son, considering that he is the first Asian player to ever win the Premier League Golden Boot. Fans back home are incredibly proud of what he has been able to accomplish.
“This is a joyous occasion to be celebrated by the entire Asian football community,” said South Korean President Yoon Seok-Youl. Via Talksport.com
Since Salah and Son ended up tied for the most goals, it was far from guaranteed that the South Korean striker would even be able to stake a partial claim to the Golden Boot. His performance on the final day of the regular season catapulted him into the top spot, as he scored two goals against Norwich City in a 5-0 blowout victory. Remarkably, none of Son’s 23 goals were penalty kicks, meaning that he had to negotiate his way through defenders to earn each one of those conversions.
With the game well in hand, Son’s teammates on the pitch knew what was at stake individually for him, and the Golden Boot winner was thankful for the support he received.
“I wanted to score today. The team helped me a lot at half-time,” Son stated. “They wanted to help me, you could see it today.” Via SI.com
The 29 year-old has been among the Premier League leaders in goals scored for a few seasons, making the idea of Son winning a Golden Boot someday not completely farfetched. He finished tied for fourth in scoring last season, and finished in the top ten in 2017-2018.
After wrapping up his most successful club season yet, Son Heung-Min will turn his attention the World Cup, which is being held in Qatar later this year. He will lead a Korean team that has legitimate hopes of getting out of the group stage. Portugal, Ghana and Uruguay will join Korea in Group H.
The scintillating striker has made over 100 hundred appearances in international matches for Korea. In the 2018 World Cup, Son had a couple of memorable moments. He scored in stoppage time in each of Korea’s last two games, against Mexico and Germany.