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Son Heung-min reflects on last season: “I couldn’t abandon Tottenham I’ll be back to being Sonny”

Son Heung-min of the South Korean national soccer team greets fans after the 1-1 draw between South Korea and El Salvador during the Hana Bank Invitational Football Tournament at Daejeon World Cup Stadium in Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, South Korea, on June 20.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min, 31, reflects on his sports hernia injury at the end of last season, saying it was a “really tough moment” but that he feels like a new man after the operation.

“Everyone wondered why I waited so long to have the surgery, but I couldn’t turn my back on a team that was struggling,” Son Heung-min, who is in Singapore for the ongoing preseason, told the British media on Sept. 25 (local time). I didn’t want to disappoint the fans.”

Son, who won the English Premier League (EPL) Golden Boot in the 2021-22 season, struggled last season. He was heavily scrutinized by opponents and suffered an orbital fracture.

He also suffered a sports hernia at the end of the season and was not in top form, but he played through the pain and only had surgery after the season ended.

“It affected everything: turning, running, and shooting. I was excited to go to the stadium because there was no pain when I walked, but I was frustrated as soon as I stepped on the field for warm-ups. Every movement was painful,” he explained.

“I decided to have surgery after the season. It was the best decision I ever made,” he emphasized.

It’s been a tough time for Son, but also for Tottenham.

After finishing fourth in the 2021-22 season and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, the club dropped to eighth in 2022-23. Head coach Antonio Conte parted ways with the club during the season, and acting head coach Christian Stellini was sacked. At the end of the season, Ryan Mason took over as acting head coach.

The turbulent situation, coupled with a bad team atmosphere, was the reason Son put off the surgery.

“People wonder why I didn’t have the surgery sooner, but the answer is simple,” says Son, “I didn’t want to abandon the struggling Spurs. I felt that the team was struggling every moment and I didn’t want to disappoint people,” he said.

He added: “I will not make excuses for my decision. It was my decision to play through the pain,” he said, adding, “Every soccer player plays through pain. But I didn’t want the fans to be disappointed. It was painful, but that’s all.”

Son embraced Conte, who he worked with last year. “Tottenham players are too selfish and don’t want to help each other,” Conte had criticized before his sacking. The comments were met with anger from Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, and he left the club shortly afterward.

“I don’t think it was sincere,” Son said of Conte’s comments, “I’m grateful to him. I had a good relationship with Conte and we won the Golden Boot together. I’m grateful to have worked with him.”

“The end was not ideal, but being with him made me more passionate. I learned a lot,” he added.

Son is looking forward to working with new coach Ange Postecoglou. The former Celtic (Scotland) manager is known for his emphasis on attacking soccer.

“I’m really happy to play attacking soccer, I think we can score a lot of goals and win games,” Son smiled.

Coming back from injury, he said, “I will show that last season was not the Sonny (Son Heung-min) that everyone knows. It wasn’t my best season, but it was the year I learned the most, 스포츠토토 and I’m determined to be the same Sonny again.”

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