Tottenham star Son Heung-min explains emotional reaction to 14-minute hat-trick vs Leicester
Antonio Conte dropped his forward for the Saturday evening clash after failing to find the net in the opening eight games of the season, opting to start both Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski alongside Harry Kane.
However, the South Korea international answered any critics in stunning style with a quickfire treble, and he explained his goal celebrations after barely reacting to the first, putting his finger to his lips after the second and simply holding up three fingers for the third.
“I just wasn’t happy with my chances and performance-wise I was not happy and I was disappointed with myself,” Son told reporters.
“Look, I’m born loving football and I am still in love with football. I think about football. I’m an attacking player and when I’m not scoring I’m not happy. How can I be happy if I have an unbelievable opportunity to score or make the chances?
“If I’m happy and I’m not scoring, I probably wouldn’t be here. Sometimes when I go home, even if we’ve won the game. I’m still sad because my performance wasn’t good, there are things I can do better and the mistakes I made because I missed the chances.
“I’m always thinking about football because I made it here and this is the way I am here. I still love football even in the tough moments and this is why I am here.”
The 30-year-old had his best season last year, finishing as Premier League top scorer with Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah, but has faced criticism at the beginning of the new campaign.
Son is aware of the criticism he has faced, but insists he doesn’t take it personally.
“I got 23 goals last season. Sometimes you achieve so many amazing things that of course, people are going to look at you and give you more attention,” he continued. “But this is why I am here, to do better things and to learn something. That’s the same in football and in life I think I am still young.
“I want to learn many things in the Premier League. It was a tough first few games but this is the lesson. I am not 18 years old. I wish I was. But I have experienced enough in professional football teams.
“I had some bad periods and some amazing ones. Even when I had a good period I learned so many things. You know better than me that in the bad periods you learn so much. I’m doing it right now. It wasn’t that bad, but in these tough moments I had some lessons and really good people around me to help me.”
Discussing Richarlison and Kulusevski starting ahead of him, Son added: “We are team-mates. Why should we feel the pressure? The competition is good. They are good players.
“If they play well it’s a good thing for the team. Competition always makes you better. Everywhere you go there is always competition. I am happy for those players. They are young and they have amazing futures. They can be unbelievable players, so having these two quality players is a good thing for the team.”
Son ran over to fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone for a prolonged hug after a lap of honour with the match ball at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Conte’s valued coach is well known for his brutal training methods and Son explained why he embraced the 62-year-old.
“He’s a killer, to be honest,” he joked. “But I have a really, really good relationship with Gian Piero Ventrone. His English isn’t perfect and sometimes he comes with his phone to translate into English from Italian. It means a lot.
“Not just football-wise, but life-wise he gives me so much advice and I am grateful for that. It’s been so helpful and I always give him a big hug, even in tough times. He’s always been next to me at every stop. Even today before we left the hotel we had a couple of minutes and a nice conversation which made me really comfortable and really grateful.”