However, despite a stellar performance in the World Cup, the 26-year-old footballer and his teammates faced almost two years of military service had they failed to win over Japan.
South Korea’s constitution prescribes that all young men are required to serve 21 months in the military. Winning a medal in the Olympic Games or capturing the gold medal in the Asian Games, however, allows elite athletes to avoid military service.
In the match against Japan, Lee Seung-woo and Hwang Hee-chan contributed each to put South Korea 2-0 up during the extra time. While Japan’s Ueda Ayase managed to score a point, it was not enough to stop South Korea from taking their fifth title.
The Asian Games gold gave Son and the whole South Korea squad an exemption from the military service.
Many view Son’s extreme happiness as the victory has officially ended previous uncertainties surrounding his status with Tottenham which bought him for $28.5 million back in 2015. The team also signed him up for a new five-year contract in July.
While South Korea also took the gold in the 2014 Asian Games by defeating North Korea, Son was unfortunately not part of that team as his former team Bayer Leverkusen did not allow him to participate.