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S. Korea captain Son Heung-min determined to lead with action, not words

Sept. 7, 2023 - 11:46 By Yonhap
Son Heung-min, captain of the South Korean men's national football team, speaks at a press conference at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff on Wednesday, ahead of a friendly match against Wales. (Korea Football Association)

Son Heung-min, captain for both the South Korean men's national team and Tottenham Hotspur, says he wants to lead his charges with action, instead of words.

The Taegeuk Warriors will need plenty of action from Son, as they try to win their first match under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann this month.

Son and his boys in red will take on Wales in Cardiff at 7:45 p.m. Thursday local time, or 3:45 a.m. Friday South Korean time.

Then they will play Saudi Arabia in Newcastle, England, at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday local time, or 1:30 a.m. next Wednesday in Seoul.

"It's a great honor and privilege to be captain for the club and the country," Son said at his pre-match press conference in Cardiff on Wednesday. "I can't say I've been great at my job or I even like this position. But I've always wanted to be a captain who leads by example, not with words. And I think captaincy has allowed me to grow so much both as a person and a player."

Klinsmann, who was named South Korea's new bench boss in late February, has gone winless in his first four matches, registering two draws and two losses. He has also been in the hot seat for spending more time in his US home than in South Korea, despite his earlier vow that he'd stay in South Korea to integrate himself into the new country and new football culture.

Klinsmann, a former Spur star himself, will lean on Son to help put South Korea back in the win column. Son joined the national team on a roll, fresh off a hat trick against Burnley in his latest Premier League match on Saturday.

Son has been South Korea's captain since 2018 and also got the armband for Tottenham before the start of this season.

Son was not 100 percent healthy for South Korea's previous friendlies in June, as he was still just a few weeks removed from sports hernia surgery. Klinsmann was also without his best defender, Kim Min-jae of Bayern Munich, who was doing his mandatory military training.

They are both back, locked and loaded, and a few other Europe-based players had strong performances with their clubs over the weekend, too.

"We all understand the importance of tomorrow's match," Son said. "We know the coach has put in so much into preparing for this, and we want to reward him with a victory." (Yonhap)