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Son Heung-Min

Son explains why he keeps throwing away protective face mask as Tottenham star takes injury ‘risk’

1:59 am AEDT 7/1/23
Heung-min Son Tottenham 2022-23
Heung-min Son has explained why he keeps throwing away an “annoying” protective face mask, with the Tottenham star prepared to take an injury “risk”.
  • Korean suffered fractured eye socket
  • Wore mask at the 2022 World Cup
  • Still in place on Premier League duty

WHAT HAPPENED? The South Korea international suffered a fractured eye socket prior to the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar and has been donning a facial accessory ever since. Son admits that he is growing tired of said mask, with the Spurs forward taking to disposing of it during a recent outing against Aston Villa before flinging it off his head again when scoring a much-needed Premier League goal against Crystal Palace.

WHAT THEY SAID: Son has told Standard Sport of his desire to see the back of the uncomfortable mask, which may go against the wishes of certain family members and club doctors: “Obviously, it’s not the same as when I play without the mask. My vision is still okay, but when the ball is coming to me, it’s sometimes annoying, because I can’t see the ball because of the mask. It’s not really bothering me, but it’s not the best. Against Villa, I was really frustrated, because I received the ball and then suddenly I lost the ball, because I couldn’t see it. I was just angry.

“If I’m alone, obviously, I would play without the mask, but my parents, my family, my friends watching back in South Korea are all worried. Obviously, it’s a risk if someone hits me again. They [my parents] didn’t say you should wear it or whatever, but we were having dinner [after the Villa game] and they said, ‘Um, what happened with the mask?’ Obviously, they’re worried. And also the physios and doctors said after the Villa game, ‘It’s your decision, but we recommend you should still be wearing the mask’, because the risk is still high, because it’s just seven weeks since the operation.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Having been forced to undergo surgery to fix a fracture near his eye socket, Son is aware that he needs to take every precaution possible in order to avoid suffering another injury setback, but he is also desperate to be rid of a mask that is impacting his game.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Son claimed a share of the Premier League Golden Boot in 2021-22, with 23 top-flight efforts to his name, but has found the target on just six occasions across all competitions this season and will be hoping that a welcome effort in a 4-0 victory over Palace sees the floodgates open again.