“We are discussing a player of the highest caliber” On a pre-season tour of South Korea, Antonio Conte calls Son Heung-min “one of the best in the world” before the pair executes the forward’s signature goal celebration.
The judgment was delivered categorically by Antonio Conte. Son Heung-min, a national hero in South Korea, was anxiously awaiting news.
‘We are talking about a world-class player,’ beamed Tottenham boss Conte. ‘One of the best players, and maybe many people underrated him because Sonny can play in any team in the world.’
Son sat beside his head coach as they fielded questions from a packed press conference room at the World Cup Stadium in Seoul, where Spurs will launch their pre-season schedule against the K-League All-Stars on Wednesday.
He stays with us by pure luck, and I am by pure luck to have him on my squad. Having a player like him is a pleasure. Always smiling, always having a positive attitude, and showing a lot of commitment during training.
He is exceptional, has great left and right foot quality, and runs a lot. It’s quite challenging to demand more of your player. We are discussing a professional athlete who is among the greatest in the world.
At the conclusion of an open training session on Monday in front of 6,000 spectators, Son’s suffering during a strenuous jogging exercise in Seoul’s oppressive summer heat and humidity alarmed Korean supporters.
‘He knows my thoughts about him,’ added Conte before posing for pictures with his striker, with both of them performing Son’s trademark goal celebration. ‘Every time I had the pleasure to speak about him, I can tell only positive things.
Those players who were already a week into their preseason schedule were pushed through 42 lengths of the pitch, almost five kilometres in about half an hour, at the end of a punishing session.
Those only just back in training, a group including Son and Harry Kane, ran 30 lengths under the scrutiny of Conte’s fitness guru Gian Piero Ventrone.
‘I’m not sure how many kilometres it was but there is a set target the coaching staff want us to cover,’ said Son. ‘There were no particular words afterwards because the training was very hard. That was the one thing the players were saying was, that it was hard.