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Klinsmann proud of Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae as 'ambassadors of Korean football'

Aug. 21, 2023 - 09:25 By Yonhap
Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur applauds fans during a warmup ahead of a Premier League match against Brentford at Gtech Community Stadium in Brentford, England, on Aug. 13. (AFP-Yonhap)

South Korea head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is now linked to his two best players on the men's national football team in more ways than one.

Klinsmann, one of the world's premier strikers in the 1990s, spent the latter part of his club career with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and Bayern Munich in his native Germany. Those two clubs now employ two South Korean stars.

Longtime South Korea captain Son Heung-min was given Tottenham's armband before the start of the 2023-24 season, his ninth with the North London club. Bayern Munich, the most successful club in Bundesliga history, signed South Korean defender Kim Min-jae during the summer transfer window, prying him away from Napoli, where Kim helped them win their first Italian Serie A title in 33 years.

Both players have enjoyed success in Europe already. Son won the Premier League Golden Boot in 2022, becoming the first Asian player to lead the top English league in scoring, while Kim, in addition to lifting Napoli to the top, was named the best defender in Serie A last season.

In an online interview with South Korean media Thursday, Klinsmann said he was "very proud" of both players.

"They are the ambassadors of Korean football in the global football world," Klinsmann said from his Los Angeles home. "I think Korea can be really, really proud of this."

Klinsmann, still considered a Spurs legend despite playing just two seasons in two separate stints, has visited Son a few times on his multiple European trips since taking over the South Korean team in March. Klinsmann was on hand for Son's debut as Tottenham's captain in their season opener against Brentford on Aug. 13.

"We are very, very proud that Sonny became captain of Tottenham Hotspur," Klinsmann said, referring to Son by his widely-used nickname. "This is a very a wonderful achievement for Sonny to be captain of such a big club in England."

As for Kim, considered one of the top center backs in Europe, Klinsmann said he has no concerns whatsoever.

"I don't worry about Min-jae at all at Bayern Munich because he's in a good place," the coach said. "That's one of the best teams in the world. He's one of the best defenders in the world. He'll do well at Bayern Munich."

Klinsmann said he and Kim text each other "all the time" to stay in touch.

"He feels happy there. His family feels happy there," Klinsmann added. "It's exciting. I think it's something to be very, very proud of." (Yonhap)