Seoul - South Korea has gone Bayer 04 Leverkusen crazy. On Wednesday evening Heung-Min Son and Co picked up a 2-0 win over the attacker's former club FC Seoul against the impressive backdrop of 46,700 adoring fans at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Werkself legends Rudi Völler and Bum-Kun Cha were met with a thunderous reception as they took to the pitch prior to kick-off, but the decibel levels reached new heights when Son got his first touch of the ball.
Buoyed by the crowd’s response, the 22-year-old cult hero and his colleagues put on a show with a dominant performance, despite having to contend with the 30° heat and humidity in South Korea’s capital. Son had a handful of clear-cut chances as he completed the full 90 minutes, but in the end goals from Karim Bellarabi and Stefan Kießling either side of half-time ensured Leverkusen emerged victorious from the one of the highlights of their five-day trip to the Far East. Though the reigning South Korean Footballer of Year didn’t get on the score sheet it took nothing away from the atmosphere both during and after the encounter. As thanks for the fantastic support, the Bayer 04 players threw balls into the crowd following the final whistle before embarking on a lap of honour during which they unveiled a banner offering gratitude for both the reception and hospitality.
Son blown away
The Werkself have been put through their paces over the course of the tour. Following on from the phenomenal welcome they received at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport and the well-attended pre-match press conference, a meet and greet session with fans at the LG Best Shop provided the first PR highlight. Local heroes Son and Seung-Woo Ryu were joined by Kießling and goalkeeper Bernd Leno as 500 fans flocked to the flagship store of Leverkusen’s primary sponsor. Some were even reported to have been lining up as early as 15 hours prior to the players' arrival, a fact not lost on the players. “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” admitted Son. “The levels of excitement and interest are unbelievable. It makes me incredibly proud to be able to present my home country to my colleagues in this manner. It’s just great to be here.”
No rest for the weary
Leverkusen are now in the final leg of their trip, but with pre-season preparations in full swing, Roger Schmidt’s charges are still being kept on their toes courtesy of a packed schedule. Following a mid-morning training session with the whole team on Thursday, Son, Ryu, Kießling and Simon Rolfes split off to take charge of a training session at a local football academy. Due to return to Germany on Friday, Leverkusen will then be able to turn their attentions to gearing up for the start of the Bundesliga campaign and their UEFA Champions League play-off match, the date of which has not yet been confirmed.