Leverkusen - It had been ten games since Heung Min Son had last found the back of the net. However, it took the striker next to no time to rediscover his goalscoring touch against his former club, as the South Korean bagged his first-ever Bundesliga hat-trick in Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s emphatic 5-3 win over Hamburger SV.
Having left the pitch to a standing ovation from the jubilant home fans, the 21-year-old opened up to the gathered journalists to discuss his “perfect day”, a desire to have fun playing football and the challenges he’s faced during the start to his career with die Werkself.
Question: Mr. Son, Bayer Leverkusen won 5-3 against Hamburger SV and you scored three goals. Was that the perfect day for you?
Son: Yes, you could say that. We haven’t managed to score that many goals in a single game so far this season. I’m delighted with the win. However, I’m still annoyed with the mistake I made in the lead-up to their third goal. I was really upset about that, but fortunately we were then able to score the deciding goal on the counter to make it 5-3.
Question: Things haven’t gone that smoothly for you in the last few games. Does it make scoring three goals all the more special?
Son: That too, but it also makes me feel a little hurt and sad because HSV are my former club. Of course though, it was the game in which I scored my first Bundesliga hat-trick, but I can still enjoy it a little bit.
Question: Do you believe that your dry spell in front of goal is over after ten previous games without scoring?
Son: It’s impossible to tell right now. Of course I’m going to try and show what I’m capable of in every game I play. I just want to have fun when I play football. Today that worked out really well.
Question: Before the game you admitted that you’ve put a bit too much pressure on yourself. That certainly wasn’t noticeable against HSV today.
Son: I wanted to go into the encounter feeling more relaxed. Having fun is part of football. I have to thank my teammates and the coaching staff who have given me a lot of self-confidence. The head coach [Sami Hyypiä] told me that I shouldn’t be putting so much pressure on myself, because I’m only in my first season with Leverkusen. It all helped me produce a top performance today.
Question: How do you go into a game feeling more relaxed?
Son: You’ve got to laugh more, get involved with your teammates and just generally have more fun. Before this game I was feeling very relaxed.
Question: Did your former team-mates from HSV make it easy for you? Was it clear to you that Heiko Westermann wasn’t able to keep up?
Son: No. Heiko made a few rather aggressive challenges against me. Those hurt on occasion. As a result I really wanted to annoy him. I also had a little bit of luck. Heiko couldn’t do anything about the goals that I scored.
Question: The fans were celebrating your performance with some upbeat chants after the game. How did that make you feel?
Son: It definitely gave me goosebumps because the fans were chanting my name. I’m really happy about that right now because I’ve never experienced anything like that in my career.
Question: How difficult have your first few months with Leverkusen been? You haven’t scored in a long time and have sat on the bench on occasion. Was this performance your way of breaking free of all the issues?
Son: No, it wasn’t about that. I don’t mind sitting on the bench every now and again. We’ve got so many games to play in the Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup that I can’t play in all of them. That’s obvious. We’ve got a really good squad, which means that sometimes you’ve got to sit on the bench. I try to give my all in every training session in order to be able to play, but, as I said, I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself in recent weeks. Now the pressure is gone again and I can start having fun playing football again.
Question: Your former club is experiencing a few problems at present and aren’t in the best position in the table. Did you expect their fortunes to develop in this way?
Son: No. Even though I’ve left the club, Hamburg will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve always got my fingers crossed for them. They’ve picked up a lot of points in their last few matches and have put in some really good performances. They’ll be fine.
Question: How important was today’s win in terms of the Bundesliga title race following the defeat to Eintracht Braunschweig last weekend?
Son: After playing two games without scoring [in Braunschweig and in the UEFA Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk], there was a lot written about our current form. That’s why the win today was crucial, especially considering that Borussia Dortmund have also lost today. Now we’ve got to keep ourselves on the front foot and keep challenging at the top.
Question: You’ve now got a lengthy international break ahead of you. Where are you jetting off to?
Son: I’m flying to South Korea on Sunday. Five days later I’ll be travelling to Dubai and after that back to Germany. I’m going to be all over the place and don’t know exactly when I’ll be back. It’s going to be stressful!
Interview by Tobias Gonscherowski
Check out the top five Bundesliga goals of the South Korean star, exclusively on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: