Seoul, June 2 (Yonhap) — Two decades ago, Dutch-born coach Gus Hiddink guided South Korea through an impossible march to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup. Then co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
But what if Hiddink had Premier League Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min on his team in 2002? Would South Korea go to the final?
Premier League Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min
Yes. It’s a very simple answer,” Hiddink said with a smile on Thursday before attending a special luncheon at a hotel in Seoul that was held as part of the 20th-anniversary celebrations of the 2002 World Cup. If we had taken him, of course, we would have gone the finals and we would have won the finals.”
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Son becomes first Asian player to win Golden Boot
Son became the first Asian to win the Golden Boot after scoring a career-high 23 goals for Tottenham Hotspur in the recently concluded season. Hiddink called Son “such a great personality” and the type of player that every team needs.
“I think he’s a great artist. He’s doing great,” Hiddink said. “On top of that, I think he’s a very influential personality.” The Korea Football Association (KFA) is celebrating the anniversary of the World Cup all week.
And in commemoration, there will also be a friendly against world No. 1 and 2022 World Cup champion Brazil in Seoul on Thursday.
Knockout to Korea for the first time
Others on hand for lunch were: 2002 team captain Hong Myung-bo, who scored the deciding penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out against Spain; Park Ji-sung, a former midfielder who scored the group stage winner against Portugal, sent South Korea to the first knockout; and Lee Young-Pyo, who played an impressive World Cup run in Europe, played a role in a successful club career.
Son, clearly the hottest South Korean athlete today, was on the minds of these other participants. Lee, a former Tottenham player and currently CEO of K League 1 club Gangwon FC, even compared the Sun’s Golden Boot to 1969 Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon.
Shia player’s Premier League scoring title
“At least for me, winning an Asian player a Premier League scoring title is as important as putting a man over the moon,” Lee said. “I think this achievement officially confirms Son Heung-min as the greatest Asian football player in history.”
Park, the first South Korean in the Premier League to win multiple trophies with Manchester United, said Son has given hope to many Asian players.
Having played myself in the Premier League, I know winning the Golden Boot” I am the proud son. I wonder if anyone (from Asia) can win the Golden Boot, and he made it a reality.”
Despite his goal-scoring valor, Son was recognized as a professional footballer.
Despite his goal-scoring valor, Son was inexplicably shortlisted for the Player of the Year award in English football presented by the Professional Footballers’ Association. was not nominated, but he said, “I think he demonstrated undeniable talent.”