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Son won the war

Son Heung-Min avoided 21 months of military service thanks to the victory at the Asian Games

Son won the war Son Heung-Min avoided 21 months of military service thanks to the victory at the Asian Games

Last Saturday, Son Heung-Min won the war: his South Korea faced Japan in a match between U23 that meant a lot for the Tottenham player. A history of bureaucracy, military, football and missed opportunities. For Son, there were not only the Asian Games up for grabs, no. Not the money, not the glory: the motivations that push a player to give 100% in the field are the most disparate, and perhaps that of Son enters the Olympus of the strangest of all time. For the 1992 class striker, it was inside or outside. His career could have suffered a sudden and inevitable slowdown. With the victory of the gold medal, however, the danger has been avoided. But let's go in order.

In South Korea, there’s a law that obliges all young people under the age of 28 to perform 21 months of military service. And for all young people we mean all young people, so even established footballers, far from their country of origin, who earn millions of pounds. So, also Son. Ok, but then all the Korean players have been scanned by radar all this time without anyone noticing? Not exactly. There is a way to avoid carrying out military service (which involves a payment of around 100 euros a month). There is one last beach, a safe harbor called "sporting merits": those who contribute to raising the South Korean flag high are exempt from leverage. Yes, but how high? Surely a missed access to the round of the World Cup is not enough, and Son knows it well.

Korea, in fact, despite the last, resounding victory against Germany, in Russia has failed to overcome the group stage. No sporting merits, which instead (for example) were granted to players who had arrived in the semifinals during the World Cup in 2002 (with a lot of elimination of Italy to the knockout stages, between a sigh and a grr reaction). And so Son, at the end of World Championship, had found himself at the age of 26 (made last 8th July) with the real danger of having to leave Tottenham for two seasons due to military service. An absurd, paradoxical situation. But there was one last beach, and Son caught up with her.

With the approval of Tottenham, he joined the U23 Korean expedition that took part in the Asian Games, the last chance for him to get the sporting merit. This also because in 2014, when he was a Bayer Leverkusen player, the German club prevented him from participating in the same competition. That in the end, of course, was won by South Korea. However, football in Asian Games is close to the country tournament than to the Europeans: for this reason, the most important players do not press the clubs to take part in a competition that is anything but irresistible. Seeing Son take the field in that kind of competition was strange, but inevitable: the alternative was the military lever. Otherwise, a Tottenham striker, a Premier League contender and the next Inter opponent in Champions League, would never have lowered that level.

Of course, South Korea was the favorite for the final victory, also (and perhaps above all) for the presence of the star of Tottenham, a player of absolute value, from top clubs, as in Korea at the moment there are none. Son is the classic player underestimated for lack of surname cool: style Giaccherini / Giaccherinho, in this case, the motto is "if only you had called Sonaldo". Because the qualities are certainly not lacking, and during the Asian Games he proved it once again.

Seeing play Son in the final against Japan was a strange experience: it seemed to be back at the age of 8 when it was a ball in the streets and suddenly came the 12-year-old phenomenon, joined one of the two teams making her win. The Korean tactic was always the same: everyone on the pitch was looking for the Tottenham player, who received the ball in any area of the field trying to break down the opposing lines alone. The game was a mixture between an episode of Holly and Benji (imagine who could be Holly) and a football game played on the street until lunchtime, interrupted by the call of the child-who-had-brought-the-ball mother.

Yes, Son’s Korea eventually won the game. It took a while, actually: after 90 minutes the result was still nailed to 0-0. The striker of Tottenham seemed desperate, the nightmare was real, tangible, during extra time and penalties could have happened anything. But in the end things went in the right direction, for him and his team: on the Korean advantage occasion, Son has dribbled an opponent inside the area and on the loose ball he rushed the star of Hellas Verona Lee (another player buggy at those levels, which also achieved a double in the semi-final with Vietnam), who threw a powerful shot below the intersection, blowing up the Korean festival. The 2-0, again on Son's assist, was made by Hwang, a Hamburg striker, and another half-bugged player, compared to the Japanese U23. Which, however, managed to take off one goal: the Ueda header scares, worries, makes shudder. But the game was almost over, the reds managed, the blue did not have enough energy to strike again. And so the triple whistle sanctioned the victory of South Korea. And the salvation of Son.

A fundamental contribution to the final victory was certainly given by the various YouTube users who commented on the challenge live. Many were rooting for Son Korea, giving the striker of Tottenham the strangest nicknames type:

Sondado (a very nice reference to military leverage)

Sonaldo (discounted but always nice)

Soniesta (which now also plays in Japan, at Vissel Kobe)

Sondriguinho (who wins the fantasy prize)

Lionel Messon (at Sonaldo levels, more or less)

Someone even dared a Son >>> Dybala, someone else celebrated with "Son is free". The real breakthrough, however, was brought by a group of users evidently in fixed with Dragon Ball. After having dusted off the episode in which Goku unleashes the Genkidama Sphere, some fans have decided to support the player in their own way:


Seeing these comments on the left was a mystical journey through the meanderings of typhus follies. The tactic, by the way, seems to have worked wonders. At the triple whistle, Son ran to hug everyone, he also raised his trainer in the air as he would have done any Goku with the Turtle Hermit. All love was for Son, with Tottenham fans attached to the screen to pass their energy to a key-player for Pochettino. A profile perhaps too often underestimated, with the genius of the champion (and an excellent left-footed) and the Korean attitude to discipline. A mix of self-managed strength and talent, just like a soldier who, fortunately for Tottenham and football, will not have to be a soldier.

There is an image that perhaps better than others describes what this match meant for Son. While all his companions were saying goodbye to the Japanese, lined up to receive the homage of the champions, Son was busy correcting two South Korean flags. After finding, he threw them open and started flying around the field. like a fighter-bomber. Then he noticed the greeting to his adversaries and reassembled himself.

His flight, fortunately for him and for the whole football world, will continue. Arms wide open, England direction: there is a career to carry on, after winning the war.