Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Hueng-min along with his South Korea teammates were exempted from the mandatory military service as they defeated Japan by 2-1 to win the gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games football event. Every fit men in South Korea have to complete 21 months of military service as a deterrent against the North. However, exemptions are offered to players who win any medal at the Olympics or Gold at the Asian Games.
“This is the best day of my life,” AFP quoted Son as saying after the match.
“I’m so proud of my team-mates, they fought for 120 minutes. But without the Korean people behind us we couldn’t win this tournament. Of course when I see the people support me, I want to give something back and this is the best present for my life. I’m so grateful to Tottenham because they let me come here,” grinned Son.
“I really thank the coaching staff and players. I’ll continue to work hard for Tottenham when I return,” he added.
The final match between Japan and South Korea went to the extra time after a goalless 90 minutes, but substitutes Hwang Hee-chan and Lee Sueng-woo changed the game for the South Koreans as they defended their 2014 gold medal with a 2-1 win. Ayase Ueda scored a goal to bring Japan back to the game with five minutes left on the clock, but failed to find the equaliser to take the game to penalties.
Son was captaining the South Korea under-23 side as one of the over-aged players and played a crucial part in both the goals as his lay-off enabled Lee to send the ball into the top of the net. Hwang’s second goal was the result of Son’s corner.
South Korea’s gold medal in football has once again given life to Son’s footballing career as he is now set to travel back to London to join his teammates at club Tottenham Hotspur. The London-club immediately congratulated the forward on Twitter after the final whistle.