Hamburg - The feat of becoming the youngest-ever Bundesliga scorer for Hamburger SV, one of Germany's most successful and tradition-steeped clubs, is one that could have gone straight to the head of many a promising prospect.
Strike rate improving
That was never going to be the case with South Korean star Heung Min Son, however, after he found the net at the tender age of 18 years, three months and 22 days - surpassing the long-standing record of HSV legend Manfred Kaltz.
"At the time I didn’t actually know I'd become the club's youngest scorer in the Bundesliga," he says. "Then somebody told me and I got goose bumps. It made me really happy and I hope there are a few more records like that still to come."
Since that historic effort against 1. FC Köln in October 2010, Son has gone from strength to strength. He scored five goals in his next full season as Hamburg finished in 14th place, but it is in the current campaign that the now 20-year-old has truly announced his presence as one of the German top flight’s most exciting new forwards.
Son has netted nine goals so far this season, among them two apiece both home and away against the mighty Borussia Dortmund. The first encounter, a 3-2 victory on Matchday 4, brought the defending champions' record-threatening 31-game unbeaten streak to an abrupt end, while on Matchday 21 the youngster's sensational curling strike helped HSV to a surprise 4-1 success at the Signal Iduna Park.
Son's goals are notable for their range and variety and are scored from all manner of positions, not to mention off of either foot. He puts his ambidexterity down to a strict training regime, overseen by his father: "He played football himself, but he wasn't two-footed. And he told me: 'As a striker you need to be able to shoot with either foot. Then you'll be at an advantage.' So he practiced with me from morning until night."
Son had just turned 16 when he left South Korea to join the HSV youth programme in 2008. In the interim, he is quite at home in Hamburg, where he lives with his parents. "I need them to be there all the time. I train constantly with my dad and my mum takes care of everything for me at home," he says.
A well-grounded young man, the Chuncheon native nonetheless has a few personal targets in his sights. "I'd like to score a hat-trick in the Bundesliga, and Bum Kun Cha once got 17 goals in a season." Cha blazed a trail which ever more of his compatriots are now following, becoming a cult favourite at Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the process of racking up 98 Bundesliga goals in the 1980s.
"That's a milestone to aim for," Son acknowledges. With his best years ahead of him and having scored 17 times in the top flight himself already, he is certainly heading in the right direction.