Son, wearing the captain's armband, scored South Korea's second goal in the Taeguk Warriors' stunning 2-0 win over defending champions Germany in their Group F closing match on Wednesday. It was his second goal of the tournament, following his left-footed curler against Mexico in their second Group F match.
Son burst into tears after the final whistle at Kazan Arena, and his tears had somewhat different meaning than four years ago.
|Son Heung-min bursts into tears after match against Germany. (Yonhap)|
For the Tottenham Hotspur star, Russia 2018 was his second World Cup. And it was the tournament that he had been awaiting for four years following the 2014 World Cup, where South Korea suffered an early exit with one draw and two losses.
In Brazil, he realized South Korea were helpless among the world's top teams and the World Cup isn't a stage where you can only compete with confidence.
Son already burst into tears in Russia after South Korea's 2-1 loss to Mexico. Then, the 25-year-old said he felt sorry for his teammates, with South Korea's chances for the round of 16 virtually over.
Against Germany, Son's tears were more about achievement, and their hard-fought work.
"I cried because we really competed well and I want to thank my teammates for that," Son said in the mixed zone. "I also want to thank my teammates because we did deliver some appreciation to our fans support with this performance."
This was Son's first World Cup win at the World Cup. Son said he feels good for the win, but it's pity that his side couldn't qualify for the round of 16. South Korea ended up in third place in Group F with one win and two losses, finishing behind Sweden and Mexico.
"Winning a game is always happy, and we always want to win," he said. "We have players who are really talented, but it's sad we cannot show their performances anymore."
Son said it was the player's mentality that was different from their previous matches. He said South Korea were "unlucky" in their 1-0 loss to Sweden and a 2-1 defeat to Mexico.
"We're unlucky because we conceded two goals in those matches through penalty kicks," he said. "We didn't play differently, but it was our mentality that made the difference."
Son emphasized that South Korea should not be satisfied with the win, but they have to work harder to have a better future.
"I'm still afraid of the World Cup," he said. "We have to keep developing to play better football. We have to look ahead next four years or maybe eight years."
Son previously said playing against Germany was his dream.
Having stints with German Bundesliga clubs like Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg, Son said he was happy that he could fulfill his dream with a win, but that's a result of a teamwork.
"I really wanted to beat Germany," he said. "I do have lots of Germans to thank for my times in Germany, but I wanted to win. But this victory is not made by myself. It's what our team achieved." (Yonhap)