Son Heung Min’s father, Son Woong Jung, 56, was once an average soccer player who dreamed of becoming a soccer superstar. But his dreams would not come true because at the age of 28 he suffered an Achilles tendon injury that ended his career. Woong Jung recalls that he was a “mediocre” player. But being “mediocre” meant that he would have to try harder and learn the intricacies of the sport better than the talented players if he was to keep up. When he retired he had acquired knowledge that would help shape Son Heung Min into the player he is today.
Woong Jung saw problems with how S.Korean Football teams were teaching its soccer youth. He believes the exhausting and rigorous training system employed by S.Korean football teams was one of the reasons he got injured. So Woong Jong prevented his son from joining a football team until he was 16 years old. “Korea’s football system is obsessed with winning … so kids are exhausted from a young age,” he said to AFP. Instead, he trained his son himself and repeatedly drilled the basics like ball control, dribbling, and passing. “I didn’t allow my son to play in a formal league until he turned 16. Instead, I taught him only basics, six hours a day, every day,”
Woong Jung also didn’t let his son shoot the ball until he was a teenager. Unlike most kids who start off shooting the ball then learning the basics, Woong Jung believed that shooting the ball strained the knee too much. He believed shooting fundamentals are much easier to learn and could be learned at an older age preserving the body of unnecessary stress. Woong Jung believes when they get older that’s when you start exercising shooting drills excessively because at that point the body can take it. This transformed into what many call the “Son Heung Min Zone.” An ability to use both feet equally and be able to play any position.
The methods he applied obviously worked out. Son Heung Min is a soccer superstar for the Tottenham Hotspurs a team that competes in the Premier League. He recently signed a five-year extension that keeps him at Tottenham until 2023, making him the highest paid Asian player ever. Additionally, he holds the record for the most scored points for an Asian player and he won Premier League Player of the Month twice in one year. He credits his father for his success, “He is very proud of me and without him, I wouldn’t be here.”
Woong Jung has been nicknamed “soccer dad” since people found out how strict he was, reports Korea Times. When Heung Min dropped out of school to attend the Hamburg youth academy at the age of 16 his father lived in a motel near the training center. Every day he would train with his father who kept pushing him. “I couldn’t stop, he was right besides me, training just the same as me,” Hyeung Min recalls.
Woong Jung travels with his son to matches and is always giving his son pointers and making sure he keeps in top physical shape. “He gave me my attitude, helped me with so many things. He still loves me and comes to every home game. After the matches, we talk about certain bad situations, some positive things, and what I can do better,” Heung Min told the Evening Standard. On the Tottenham Hotspurs anniversary party, Heung Min was partying late when his father called him and told him that he was messing up his natural body rhythm. Heung Min listened to his father, went home and got some sleep.
Many people felt that his dad was overbearing but when Heung Min was asked about this he said, “To me, he is my father and a football coach as well. He played soccer long before I became a soccer player and his experiences helped me a lot.”
Woong Jung has started his own academy where he teaches his methods to other kids. The Son Football Academy located in Chuncheon S.Korea is his new baby. He helps many kids develop their skills the way he taught his son. Basics are emphasized while shooting skills are delayed until a player is older. He has 15-year-olds in his school he has yet to teach how to shoot. He plans to show them how to shoot properly in a year or two. Families with dreams of their son becoming the next Heung Min move their entire family to Chuncheon just so they can attend The Son Football Academy. “He has decades of know-how,” Jung Hee Suk, a mother who moved her family to Chuncheon said. “He knows football better than anyone else.”