Son Heung-min emerges as key for Tottenham but ‘problematic’ behaviour puts South Korea place at risk

South Korea manager Uli Stielike has criticised the attitude of Heung-Min Son, despite the forward earning rave reviews for his match-winning performances for Tottenham Hotspur this season.
Son Heung-min has scored four goals in his last two Premier League matches but his attitude has been questioned by his national team manager. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP
Son Heung-min has scored four goals in his last two Premier League matches but his attitude has been questioned by his national team manager. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

South Korea manager Uli Stielike has criticised the attitude of Son Heung-min, despite the forward earning rave reviews for his match-winning performances for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.

Stielike rebuked Son, who has scored four goals in his last two league games as Tottenham climbed to second in the Premier League table, for his “problematic” behaviour.

“As many people have already seen from the stands or on television, I think his behaviour away from the field can be problematic,” said Stielike on Monday as he selected Son, 24, as his first-choice striker in a 23-man squad for World Cup qualifiers against Qatar and Iran next month.

German Stielike said that Son, and others, could be dropped in future if his behaviour did not improve.

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“Unless he gets his act together and changes his attitude, I will have to think about the rest of the team as the coach,” Stielike said.

“All players have to be careful.”

During a World Cup qualifier against China earlier this month, Stielike substituted Son in the final moments of the match as South Korea clung on to a 3-2 lead.

Visibly frustrated, Son kicked at a water bottle as he left the field. The manager then embraced him and shared a few words, but Son turned and kicked the ground in frustration.

In June, Son apologised after throwing a towel toward the bench after being substituted during a 6-1 friendly defeat against Spain.

Stielike said the problem wasn’t confined to Son and he questioned the attitude of some other Korean players who had recent public spats with their club managers.

Lee Chung-Yong criticised his Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew in an interview with a South Korean news website late last season and was subsequently fined.

Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng refused to shake hands with his Italian manager Francesco Guidolin after being benched during a defeat to Southampton earlier this month. “This is not a good attitude”, Guidolin said at the time.

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Published: September 27, 2016 04:00 AM

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