Son Heung-min set for biggest game

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Son Heung-min set for biggest game

Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean forward Heung-min Son prepares to kick the ball during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur at the Johan Cruyff Arena, in Amsterdam, on May 8. AFP-Yonhap

By John Duerden

Son Heung-min has had one of the most dramatic weeks of his life and the same can be said of English soccer. When the South Korean signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2015, there were few signs that he was joining a team destined for the UEFA Champions League final, but on June 1, it will happen against fellow English team Liverpool in the city of Madrid.

The London club has never appeared on such a stage. It was 1961 when the Whites last won the English Championship. In 1984 Spurs won the UEFA Cup, the second-tier trophy in Europe, but since those times they have rarely even challenged the English top tier, never mind Europe.

Son has played a major part in Tottenham getting to the final even if the headlines last week belonged to someone else. Spurs had lost the first leg of the semifinal 1-0 at home in London and headed to Amsterdam to take on Ajax knowing there was much to do.

In the first-half Ajax scored two more, meaning the Spurs had to score three goals in the second half to go through to the final. And that is what happened. All three came from Lucas Moura. The Brazilian scored all of them and the last one came with virtually the last kick of the game. It was a stunning turnaround and performance.

Son can now look forward to becoming the second South Korean to appear in the Champions League final. Park Ji-sung was a key figure for Manchester United as the team made its way to the final of the 2008 edition. The midfielder was controversially left out of the matchday roster for the final against Chelsea in Moscow, a game that United won. A year later, he played in the final though was on the losing side to Barcelona.

Now it is Son's turn. He has had quite a 12 months playing at the World Cup, the Asian Games and the Asian Cup. He has still found the time and the energy to star for the club in the Premier League and the Champions League. Overall he has enjoyed a good season in which he, at times, was Tottenham's best player.

There have been quiet periods, such as the past few games in the league, but with a little rest, Son is sure to be there in Madrid and it would be no surprise if he was to play a crucial part in deciding whether the European trophy goes to the northwest of England and the port city of Liverpool (Liverpool has been continental champion five times already) or to North London for the first time ever.

The build-up to this all-English final is sure to be intense but for Son a crazy 12 months will not end this weekend as the Premier League comes to a close on June 1 in Spain. He will be very happy about that. It would be special if an Asian player, never mind one from South Korea, could play a deciding role in a UEFA Champions League final for the first time ever.


Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean forward Heung-min Son prepares to kick the ball during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur at the Johan Cruyff Arena, in Amsterdam, on May 8. AFP-Yonhap

By John Duerden

Son Heung-min has had one of the most dramatic weeks of his life and the same can be said of English soccer. When the South Korean signed for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2015, there were few signs that he was joining a team destined for the UEFA Champions League final, but on June 1, it will happen against fellow English team Liverpool in the city of Madrid.

The London club has never appeared on such a stage. It was 1961 when the Whites last won the English Championship. In 1984 Spurs won the UEFA Cup, the second-tier trophy in Europe, but since those times they have rarely even challenged the English top tier, never mind Europe.

Son has played a major part in Tottenham getting to the final even if the headlines last week belonged to someone else. Spurs had lost the first leg of the semifinal 1-0 at home in London and headed to Amsterdam to take on Ajax knowing there was much to do.

In the first-half Ajax scored two more, meaning the Spurs had to score three goals in the second half to go through to the final. And that is what happened. All three came from Lucas Moura. The Brazilian scored all of them and the last one came with virtually the last kick of the game. It was a stunning turnaround and performance.

Son can now look forward to becoming the second South Korean to appear in the Champions League final. Park Ji-sung was a key figure for Manchester United as the team made its way to the final of the 2008 edition. The midfielder was controversially left out of the matchday roster for the final against Chelsea in Moscow, a game that United won. A year later, he played in the final though was on the losing side to Barcelona.

Now it is Son's turn. He has had quite a 12 months playing at the World Cup, the Asian Games and the Asian Cup. He has still found the time and the energy to star for the club in the Premier League and the Champions League. Overall he has enjoyed a good season in which he, at times, was Tottenham's best player.

There have been quiet periods, such as the past few games in the league, but with a little rest, Son is sure to be there in Madrid and it would be no surprise if he was to play a crucial part in deciding whether the European trophy goes to the northwest of England and the port city of Liverpool (Liverpool has been continental champion five times already) or to North London for the first time ever.

The build-up to this all-English final is sure to be intense but for Son a crazy 12 months will not end this weekend as the Premier League comes to a close on June 1 in Spain. He will be very happy about that. It would be special if an Asian player, never mind one from South Korea, could play a deciding role in a UEFA Champions League final for the first time ever.




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