PHOTO: HURTING: Son Heung-min was clearly distressed after his tackle on Andre Gomes resulted in a serious injury for the Everton midfielder. AFP Photo.
By Paul Kennedy
The children’s television cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants isn’t exactly regarded as an educational programme.
The series chronicles the adventures and endeavours of the title character and his aquatic friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom.
I’ll confess, I’ve never watched it and for many years thought the title actually referred to two people, how wrong I was.
One person who did watch it religiously, and could even be counted as a SpongeBob SquarePants aficionado, is bizarrely Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker, Son Heung-min.
Son used the Nickelodeon animated show to help learn German after his left his home country to ply his trade with Hamburger FC in the Bundesliga at the age of 16.
It worked, Son is fluent in German.
In 2015 he made the move to London and has since played 139 games, scoring 44 times for the north Londoners.
I think Son is a hell of a player. He does get slightly overlooked sometimes as his strike partner Harry Kane often gets the plaudits, but that aside, his work ethic is unquestionable and what he brings to the team is invaluable to Spurs.
On Sunday, Son was involved in probably the game he will remember most, for all the wrong reasons.
On 79 minutes Son went in for a challenge on Everton’s Portuguese midfielder, Andre Gomes.
It was Gomes who came out the worst, suffering a horrific injury that sent shockwaves around Goodison Park. If you have a stomach strong enough to watch replays of the tackle, you can clearly see the anguish and pain on the faces of the players on the pitch.
One player showing the most concern was Son, it was clear that he felt he was to blame for this career-threatening injury.
He was shown the red card for the challenge, but I have no doubt it was 100 per cent accidental with zero malice intended on the part of the South Korean. He’s just not that type of player.
The main concern now is for the full and speedy recovery of Gomes as he begins rehabilitation after fracturing his ankle.
But it seems mentally, the challenge is having a serious knock-on effect for the Tottenham forward.
His club have already enlisted the help of a counsellor to help him get over what happened, and there are doubts about his mindset as to when he will play again.
My words will have little effect, but he really needs to try his hardest to dig himself out of this hole. While his actions may have caused the injury, he wasn’t to blame.
He was sent off but the red card has rightly been rescinded. Replays of the tackle show there was zero intent to harm the Everton player.
Not only have his Tottenham teammates come out in support of him, but also Marco Silva, the Everton manager who straight after the game refused to place any blame on Son’s shoulders.
While I obviously am hoping and praying Gomes makes a speedy full recovery, I am wishing the same for Son.
He needs to get back on the pitch as soon as possible and play.
Football is about tiny margins, a tackle mistimed by a split second can cause serious injury. A millimetre too high or too low can break legs.
It is a full-contact sport and injuries happen all the time.
In 2006, Manchester United’s Alan Smith blocked a shot by Liverpool’s John Arne Riise and broke his leg. He was never the same player again.
Son’s injuries are not physical but mental, and he will be suffering. I just hope for the good of the game he, and Gomes, are both back in action as soon as possible. VNS