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‘I’m not like Messi or Ronaldo’ – Son happy as unsung hero after being talked into Spurs stay

11:16 BST 01/10/2019
Son Heung-min Tottenham 2019-20
The South Korean forward has become a fans' favourite in north London, but does not always get the recognition many feel he deserves from afar

Heung-min Son is happy to remain an unsung hero at Tottenham, with the South Korean eager to point out that he does not crave attention like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Superstar performers at Barcelona and Juventus revel under the brightest of spotlights, with there a desire on their part to be the best and recognised around the world as such.

Son, in contrast, prefers to go about his business in more understated fashion, with his value acknowledged by those who pick and play alongside him every week at Spurs.

That is enough for the 27-year-old forward, who has become a key part of Mauricio Pochettino’s plans in north London without ever earning a billing as one of the finest performers on the planet.

Quizzed on whether a lack of attention bothers him, Son told Goal and DAZN: “No, not at all. I’m not like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. I can only do my best and try to help the team with it. If I can do that, I will be happy.”

Life in England has not always been that simple for Son, with there a time towards the end of his debut campaign in 2015-16 that the most expensive Asian player in world football wondered whether he had taken the right career path.

“The Premier League is different. I do not want to compare this with the Bundesliga, because the Bundesliga has great quality, but in the Premier League everything goes faster and is much more physical,” added the former Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen star.

“At the beginning I played and also scored some goals. Unfortunately, I injured myself and it was difficult to find a connection to the team again. I did not get any more games and wanted to go back to Germany because I felt very comfortable there. But the coach has always encouraged me. He was the right coach for me in this situation.”

Pressed further on his conversations with Pochettino and wanting out of Spurs, Son said: “I said I’d like to leave the club, but he really wanted me to do well at Tottenham. He gave me new self-confidence. The talks went so well that at some point I pushed aside my thoughts of change.”

Staying put has proved to be a wise choice, with Son now closing in on 200 appearances for Spurs while also chasing down major honours.

He added: “What counts for people are titles. We have been close to winning a title so often. I hope that the time has finally come.”

Tottenham did make the Champions League final in 2018-19, only to come up short against Liverpool, and Son believes there is still a chance that their European conquerors from last season can be chased down in the Premier League despite Pochettino’s side stumbling out of the blocks.

He said, with Spurs already 10 points adrift of the Reds after seven games: “Liverpool will certainly lose points. I would not say that they play at a different level.

"I definitely do not want to give up. There are also 10 points to catch up. Especially if you look at how many games are left to play. Everything can happen.”