Son Heung-Min 20 Striker HSV
"TSCHA BUM!!" It requires volume and preferably a Low Saxon twang, but even if German isn’t your mother tongue you’ll still understand the relevance of someone hollering ‘Sha-Boom!’ loudly when a ball is thwacked with extreme force.
This vocal ejaculation was a readily recognizable sound at German football stadia in the 1980’s as legendary South Korean striker Cha Bum-Kun worried nets for Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen. Singled out as one of the finest players to grace the top flight of German football during the decade by Kicker magazine, Kun was also a hero in his homeland, notching an impressive 55 goals in 121 international appearances between 1972 and 1986.
Since Kun’s heyday, a number of Asian footballers have made an impression on European football and Germany in particular. But none have enjoyed such resounding success, or left as permanent a mark on the Bundesliga as the explosive forward. That could be about to change in the coming years though, as Korea’s latest footballing icon begins to make his presence felt.
Son Heung-Min didn’t hesitate when offered an apprenticeship with Hamburger SV at the age of 16 in 2008. Choosing to put studies on hold in exchange for a chance to make his name as a professional footballer, he was able to force his way into the HSV second team during the 2009-10 season.
Playing primarily as a winger, Son was proving to be highly effective in the German regional leagues. His speed and ruthlessness were singled out as good reasons to allow the teenager to train with Die Rothosen’s first team squad in 2010.
Making his debut in the 2010/11 season, Son exposed flashes of his ability in a limited number of appearances, scoring three times. His first goal, scored in a 3-2 defeat at FC Köln on October 30, was especially significant as it meant that he was the youngest ever Bundesliga scorer for HSV, breaking the previous 39-year record held by Manfred Kaltz.
By this stage Son was really beginning to gain a reputation amongst regular Bundesliga watchers. His hard work, coupled with quick feet and true natural ability meant he was popular with the fraternity at the Volksparkstadion and further starts were inevitable.
And that’s exactly how things panned out. Son picked up a couple of injuries during 2011/12, but his recovery time was short, and by the end of the season he had made eleven Bundesliga starts and emerged as a substitute in a further sixteen matches, scoring five times.
Son’s emergence as a player that can create as well as finish has allowed HSV to be a little more creative in the transfer market and they have spent heavily this year in an attempt to get things firing again. A relatively high turnover of players at Hamburg is nothing new, the club have consistently chopped and changed since their late seventies and early eighties heyday. The main arrival this year has been returning hero Rafael Van Der Vaart, with the former Tottenham midfielder tasked with bringing the best out a fledgling frontline which features prolific Latvian forward Artoms Rudņevs and Son Heung-Min.
While coach Thorsten Fink still has some work to do in terms of upping the scoring ratio for his side, both young strikers have looked good so far this term, Son especially so. Now one of the first names on the HSV team sheet, 2012/13 is proving to be a real breakthrough season for him and with a regular international place seemingly assured, we could very well be looking at the finest player to ever emerge from South Korea.
That’s a fairly profound statement, but catch sight of Son and you’ll see where we are coming from. Pace, slalom like dribbling ability, that stereotypical work rate and a wickedly accurate shot that is finding its mark with increasing regularity are all traits of a player on the way up. Just twenty years old, for Son Heung-Min the future is looking very bright indeed.
"Meets the 'works his nuts off' stereotype fully, but then goes and looks absolutely class with it. Going to be huge" - Jeff Livingstone (IBWM)
C+ Keep doing what you are doing