The post-match squabble between Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about Heung-Min Son’s upbringing has thrown fresh light behind one of the most awkward relationships in Premier League football.
Solskjaer’s qualities were called into question after he accused Son of making the most of a foul in the build up to United’s early disallowed goal, saying “if my son stays down for three minutes he won’t get any food”.
The Tottenham manager responded by saying Son is “lucky his father is a better person than Ole”.
However, according to Son’s brother Heung-Yoon, Heung-Min first learned to fake injury in order to stop their father Woong-Jung from “scolding” him.
Speaking to the makers of the Amazon Prime documentary “Sonsational” released in the UK earlier this year, Heung-Yoon recalled: “Me and Heung-Min had different ways of dealing with dad.
“I’m more like our father so I had more attitude and would get punished for it. But Heung-Min was cheekier.
“He acted like he’s hurt before dad punished him. He would roll on the ground before dad hit him. So I got scolded a lot more.”
Both brothers use “scolded” freely throughout the documentary without really defining it.
Heung-Yoon comes closest. “He [dad] couldn’t spank us on the bottom because he wouldn’t wait for us to bend over.
“We would have 10-20ish balls on the ground at training. Kicked them towards us as if he was shooting.
“Once an old lady who was passing by tried to call the police because we were being brutally scolded.”
Son himself merely pointed out the discrepancy he felt when his dad committed one of the minor technical faults for which the boys were regularly punished.
“I still remember saying dad is lucky he does not get scolded when he makes mistakes,” he adds. “That’s how frightened I was of my dad. I was so frightened to make a mistake.”
Dad himself says in the film, “My approach was a regime – people thought I was Sonny’s step father, I was so harsh on him.”
Nevertheless, the pair remain close and even at Tottenham Woong-Jung, a former South Korea B international, still puts his global superstar son through his paces at the Tottenham training ground in extra sessions when the rest of the players have gone home.
After all, controversial or not, it is a strategy that has served the family well in taking them from the relative poverty in Chuncheon, South Korea.
“Father was a strict teacher, he would punish me or yell at me if I’ve done wrong,” Son says. “But that strictness had a strong influence on me
“He is my soccer senior, my soccer friend, my soccer teacher. A really good father and the one whose everything is perfect for me.”