‘No one talks about that’: Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino reveals Son Heung-min would have LEFT Spurs if they didn’t allow him to play in last summer’s Asian Games

  • Mauricio Pochettino said Heung-Min Son playing in Asian Games saved career
  • Son needed permission to play for South Korea as wasn’t part of FIFA calendar 
  • Pochettino fought for Son to play which helped him remain at Tottenham 

Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino put his job on the line to allow Heung-Min Son to play in the Asian Games last season.

The South Korean was given exemption from the countries mandatory 21-month military service after captaining his country to win the 2018 tournament in Indonesia. As the Asian Games are not part of Fifa’s official footballing calendar, Spurs had to agree to release Son. 

The club were reluctant to let Son leave for the tournament after he signed a new long-term contract and had already missed some of the season through injury. 

Mauricio Pochettino revealed letting Heung-Min Son play in Asian Games kept him at Spurs

Mauricio Pochettino revealed letting Heung-Min Son play in Asian Games kept him at Spurs

Pochettino had to allow Son time off in the season to represent South Korea in the tournament

Pochettino had to allow Son time off in the season to represent South Korea in the tournament

Pochettino put his own career at Spurs on the line as he fought for the South Korean’s right to go and play for his country and he believes that ultimately ensured that Son stayed at the club and appeared to hint that the winger may have wanted to leave North London if he couldn’t go the games. 

‘With Harry Kane injured, Son not playing the first few months because of the Asian Games, no one talks about that,’ Pochettino told the High Performance Podcast.

‘Today, Sonny is at Tottenham because we allowed him to go and play two competitions that weren’t compulsory, not being selfish and saying, ‘No, Sonny needs to stay here’.

‘Because of the club. If not, two years and you need to stop the contract with Son.

‘No one says anything about that. It was our decision to provide him the time to go.’

Pochettino was sacked by Tottenham in November after a poor run of results in both the Premier League and Champions League. Jose Mourinho replaced the Argentine and the club have slowly climbed their way back up the league table. 

Pochettino miraculously led Tottenham all the way to the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool that ended in 2-0 defeat. After the loss, it all went downhill for the Spurs boss. 

Son won the tournament and became exempt from 21-months mandatory military service

Son won the tournament and became exempt from 21-months mandatory military service

‘Monday [after the Final], I was thinking to build again, because when you are so competitive and you are a winner, you are not stuck in the past,’ he added. ‘You lose, but you want to win again tomorrow. 

‘I wasn’t knocked because we didn’t win the Final, we wanted to take a massive experience for us, learn and be ready again for the next season. We were fighting for the top four at the same time we were fighting to be in the Champions League Final.

‘If you lift the trophy, you are very successful. But the second [place] is a failure, no? We are not thinking like this but, of course, that makes you sad.

‘Of course people recognise the job was fantastic, but to finish winning the Champions League would have been amazing.’

 

 

 

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