Son Heung-min was born in Chuncheon, Gangwon. His father, Son Woong-jung, had a football career and later transitioned into coaching, having once played for the South Korea national B team.
Son’s early football development took place at FC Seoul, the same club where former Tottenham Hotspur defender Lee Young-pyo had also played. Interestingly, during his youth years at FC Seoul in 2008, Son served as a ball boy during one of the club’s home matches. At that time, his role model in the football world was midfielder Lee Chung-Yong, who had played for Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers.
In addition to his native Korean, Son is proficient in both German and English. His agent, Thies Bliemeister, mentioned that Son’s determination to succeed in Europe led him to learn German, a language he picked up by watching episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants.
Son’s journey to success is marked by his father’s rigorous coaching methods, a pivotal move from school to German football, a successful bid to avoid mandatory military service, and even completing his compulsory military training during the 2019-20 season.
Clubs: The Footballing Journey
In August 2008, Son made a significant move in his football career when he left Dongbuk High School’s football club, formerly known as FC Seoul under-18 team. At the age of 16, he joined Hamburger SV’s youth academy, a transition facilitated by the Korean FA Youth Project. However, a year later, he returned to South Korea. Following his participation in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, he officially re-entered Hamburger SV’s youth academy in November 2009.
Son’s talent shone during the 2010-11 pre-season as he emerged as the team’s leading scorer with nine goals. On his 18th birthday, he inked his first professional contract. While he made an impact by scoring against Chelsea in August, a foot injury sidelined him for two months. He made a triumphant return on October 30, 2010, scoring his first Bundesliga goal against FC Köln at the age of 18, breaking a record held by Manfred Kaltz as the youngest Hamburg player to score in the Bundesliga.
His promising performances led to a contract extension with Hamburg through 2014. Many experts saw in him the potential to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Bundesliga forward Cha Bum-kun, another South Korean football star. Son tallied three goals in 14 matches during the 2010-11 season.
The 2011-12 pre-season showcased Son’s explosive scoring ability, with 18 goals in just nine matches. Despite missing the opening match due to illness, he quickly found the net twice within three matches. An ankle injury in August 2011 initially sidelined him for four to six weeks, but he made a swift recovery, returning as a substitute in a match against Borussia Mönchengladbach on September 17. Throughout the 2011-12 season, Son made 30 appearances for Hamburg and scored five crucial goals, helping the team secure its place in the Bundesliga.
In the 2012-13 season, after Hamburger SV’s off-season changes that saw key strikers depart, manager Thorsten Fink made Son a regular starter. Son had a breakthrough season, contributing significantly with two goals in an impressive away victory against Borussia Dortmund on February 9, 2013. He earned the “Man of the Match” title from kicker. On April 14, he scored two more goals in a 2-1 win against Mainz 05, finishing the season with 12 goals and becoming the fifth South Korean footballer to achieve double-digit goals in European competition. Overall, he closed the 2012-13 season with 12 goals in 34 matches across all competitions.
On June 13, 2013, Son’s transfer to Bayer Leverkusen was confirmed for a reported €10 million, marking the club’s highest transfer fee at the time. He signed a five-year contract with the team. Son quickly adapted to his new club, impressively scoring three goals in his initial three appearances during exhibition matches.
Notably, on November 9, 2013, Son achieved a remarkable feat by scoring a hat-trick in a 5-3 victory against his former club, Hamburgers SV. His contributions continued with a crucial goal against Borussia Dortmund on December 7, moving Leverkusen closer to the top of the Bundesliga. He secured his team a spot in the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League with another goal against Werder Bremen on May 10, 2014, concluding the 2013-14 season with 12 goals in 43 matches.
In a thrilling match on February 14, 2015, Son scored a hat-trick against VfL Wolfsburg, despite his team initially trailing 0-3. He ended the 2014-15 season with 17 goals in 42 matches. Son continued to play for Bayer Leverkusen in the 2015-16 season, participating in league matches and Champions League qualifiers.
In 2015, South Korean footballer Son Heung-min made a significant move to the Premier League by joining Tottenham Hotspur for £22 million, becoming the most expensive Asian player at the time. He quickly proved his worth by scoring goals in the Premier League and UEFA Europa League, becoming a vital part of the team.
Over the next few seasons, Son’s performance improved significantly. He was named the Premier League Player of the Month and continued to score crucial goals for Tottenham, even earning the nickname “Sonaldo Nazario” for a brilliant solo goal. He received the Puskás Award for an outstanding goal and became the highest-scoring Asian player in the Champions League.
In 2020-21, Son reached a milestone by scoring his 100th goal for Tottenham and was selected for the PFA Premier League Team of the Year. The following season, he won the Premier League Golden Boot, sharing the title with Mohamed Salah, and helped Tottenham secure a Champions League qualification.
However, the 2022-23 season had its ups and downs for Son, including a challenging start and an orbital fracture. He endured racial abuse and underwent hernia surgery. Despite these setbacks, he scored his 100th Premier League goal, making him the first Asian player to achieve this milestone.
In the 2023-24 season, Son was appointed as Tottenham’s new captain and continued to shine on the field, earning praise for his leadership and goal-scoring prowess.
In summary, Son Heung-min’s journey at Tottenham Hotspur has been marked by impressive performances, milestones, and challenges, establishing him as one of the Premier League’s top players and the first Asian player to reach 100 PL goals.
Son Heung-min’s family has played a crucial role in his football journey. His father, Son Woong-Jung, a former South Korean pro footballer, was a significant influence on his development. Son’s father, who had his football career cut short by injuries, was dedicated to turning his children into professional athletes. This involved rigorous training, including extensive dribbling and juggling drills that lasted up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week during their teenage years. They were intentionally held back from competitive games until the age of 14 to prevent premature physical and mental fatigue.
Son’s elder brother, Son Heung-yun, also had a football career in the German lower leagues and now assists their father in running the “Son Football Academy” in their hometown of Chuncheon, South Korea. Son himself invested £11 million to establish the academy.
Despite his football success, Son’s father remains known for his stoic demeanor, even when his son wins prestigious awards like the Puskás Award. Memes jokingly label the family as “Son Heung-min, Dad Heung-min, and Mum Heung-min” due to this stoicism.
In terms of personal life, Son had been previously linked to K-pop singers like Bang Min-ah and Yoo So-young but is currently single.
South Korean football star Son Heung-Min’s estimated net worth in 2023 is approximately $55 million, reflecting a consistent increase in his wealth over the years. In 2022, his net worth was valued at $50 million, while it was $45 million in 2021, $40 million in 2020, and $36 million in 2019. Son’s substantial earnings can be attributed to his successful football career.
Currently, Son is under a four-year contract with Tottenham Hotspur, which is worth £39,936,000. He earns an annual salary of £9,984,000, equivalent to a weekly wage of £192,000. Son’s exceptional performances in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur, where he has consistently scored goals and provided assists, have contributed significantly to his income. Additionally, he takes pride in representing South Korea in international competitions.
Career and Stats
|Hamburger SV II||2009–10||6||1|
Son Heung-Min has an impressive list of honors and awards, including the FIFA Puskás Award in 2020, recognition as the IFFHS Asian Player of the Year for multiple years, and accolades such as the Premier League Golden Boot for the 2021-22 season. He’s also been honored by the AFC, BBC, and UEFA, and has received numerous titles for his performances in the Premier League and at Tottenham Hotspur, where he’s been named Player of the Season multiple times.