Five years on: How Son Heung-Min became a pillar at Tottenham

Heung-min Son Jose Mourinho
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It was exactly five years ago – August 28th, 2015 – when a certain magician from the city of Seoul chose to swap the Red and Black colors of Bayern Leverkusen for the White and Navyblue of Tottenham. 

Of course, everyone knew at the time what sort of Player Son was – the ever-smiley, happy-face magician, who could rip defenses apart with his lightning pace. But what nobody foresaw was that he’d become such a “Big Hit” in North London.

Some even feared he might end up like his compatriot who came to North London before him. Remember him? Think they called him “Chu Young Park” and he played for a club they called ‘ASSnal.”

Five years on, not only is our little magician ripping defenses apart, but he’s finally taking center stage as one of the biggest names in the country. 

How exactly has his journey unfolded? 

You still remember?

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The start of the journey

For a player signed for 22 million pounds – a figure that made him the most expensive Asian Player of all time – hopes were definitely high for Son to be a big hit. Maybe not the major team savior (that’s Harry Kane’s status after all), fans were still hopeful of seeing a mesmerizing Sonny, having watched him dazzle so remarkably on a few occasions in the Bundesliga.

Unfortunately, it was never to be a perfect start for Sonny, who had to endure a torrid first year in North London. Condemned to the bench for the better parts of the season, Son could only make 28 Premier League appearances for the Lillywhites all season, returning only a meager 4 goals and 1 assist in the process.

Another wrong buy? Fans murmured.

The Breakthrough season

Finally, Son’s breakthrough came in the 16/17 season. And in an incredible turn of events, this season represented his career-best up until then. 

Not only did the season bring Sonny his best all-time full-season goalscoring record, but it also represented the season the Seoul-born attacker finally etched his name in the hearts of Spurs faithful, having scored 21 goals all season and becoming part of an attacking threat of three, all scoring over 20 goals in a season. #AClubRecord. 

This led the then Spurs Manager, Mauricio Pochettino, to declare Sonny a brilliant acquisition. “Son is a really brilliant signing – he needed time to adapt his game, but he is now fit and healthy, and he is feeling really comfortable.”

Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino.

Moving from strength to strength

Unlike those one-season-wonder players that often wow the Premier League in one season and fail to impress in the next, Son picked up in 17/18, where he left off in 16/17, scoring goals aplenty, while also racking up some decent assist numbers. 

All in all, after the 16/17 breakthrough, Son never looked back. And his numbers (goals and assists) are a big proof of that. 

2016/2017 21 Goals, nine Assists
2017/2018 18 Goals, 11 Assists
2018/2019 20 Goals, 10 Assists
2019/2020 18 Goals, 12 Assists


Carrying Spurs on his shoulders

With Kane always getting injured here and there, the mantle of leadership and the title of savior more than regularly fell on the shoulders of Sonny. And every time, our cheeky Seoul magician always finds a way of bringing Spurs afloat, saving our blushes and earning us some valuable points.

Remember that UCL first-leg defeat of Man City in 2019? How he carried the team and put the Cityzens to the sword with the only goal of the game?

Well, that’s just Son at his electrifying best!

Getting recognized

It is one thing to deliver wonderful performances in the Premier League; it’s another thing to be recognized for it.   In the case of Son Heung-Min, the recognitions didn’t take too long before arriving. After the less-than-perfect debut season, Son came back stronger in 16/17, winning the Player of the Month awards in September 2016 and April 2017. In the 18/19 season, he won a goal of the month award for his strike against Chelsea, and in the 19/20 season, he won another. This time, for his wonderful solo effort against Burnley.  That strike subsequently won him the Goal of the Season award for the 2019-20 season.


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