‘Bigger than Man Utd’ – Lee Young-pyo explains just how huge Spurs are in South Korea

Heung-min Son
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Former Spurs full-back Lee Young-Pyo has admitted that Tottenham Hotspur are the most talked about overseas club in the whole of South Korea thanks to Son Heung-min’s exploits.

Over the past week, the Tottenham players and staff came to see how revered they are in Korea, with thousands of fans greeting them in the airport, turning up to watch them train, and packing the stadiums to the rafters during their two pre-season matches.

Lee, who made 91 appearances in the three years he spent at Tottenham after arriving at the club in 2005 (TransferMarkt), admitted that the Lilywhites’ popularity in his country has exploded over recent years.

The former South Korean international told The Daily Mail: “I know David Beckham was an icon in English football because I lived there at the time. Sonny is even more idolised in Korea.

“All Korean media are talking about Tottenham. Only good things. They are bigger than Manchester United over here.”

Lee admitted that the heights that Son has hit for Spurs over the last few years have made him a national sporting icon unlike any other.

He added: “Asian football fans never imagined a player from Asia could be top-scorer in the Premier League. He scores 15-18 goals in most years but we never expected he would reach the Premier League top-scorer.

“He made history and we are very proud of him because they are comparing him to Mo Salah. He improved himself into one of the top players in the world, it’s amazing.”

This is not the first time that Son has returned to South Korea with his club teammates, with the forward also playing in his home country in the colours of Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen previously.

However, the 30-year-old admitted that the reception the Tottenham players have received over the past week is incomparable to his previous trips with the Bundesliga clubs.

Son told The Mail: “Incredible. The fans, the love. We are feeling the love. With Spurs, I think it is more special because the fans are more interested in our football and the big players.

“It’s gone too fast for me because it’s really enjoyable. I’m just grateful that everyone loves us, loves the Spurs and loves the team.”

Spurs Web Opinion

I felt Lee was quite underrated during his time at Spurs. He was quite unorthodox as he was right-footed despite being a left-back but he was a very good one vs one defender, even though he was prone to some lapses in concentration.

However, there is no doubt that Son’s legacy has far outstripped that of any Asian in the Premier League, including Park Ji-sung’s. Son will arguably go down as the greatest Asian player of the modern era.

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