South Korea's Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring his side's second...

South Korea's Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Asian Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Australia and South Korea at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. Credit: AP/Aijaz Rahi

LONDON — South Korea captain Son Heung-min has vowed to be a mentor to Lee Kang-in after being involved in a dispute with his international teammate during the Asian Cup.

Son and Lee reportedly had a confrontation during a dinner before South Korea’s loss to Jordan in the semifinals two weeks ago. Son came away from the incident with an injured finger, around which he still has strapping.

In a long post on Instagram, the Tottenham forward apologized for his role in the incident and called on the national team’s fans to forgive Lee.

“I myself also made a lot of mistakes and sometimes showed an immature attitude when I was younger,” Son wrote on Wednesday. “But I learned from those mistakes and was lucky to have wiser, more experienced players’ harsh advice and strict teachings to eventually stand where I am today.

“As a more experienced soccer player and a South Korean national team leader, I will take care of Kang-in by his side (so that he does) not repeat his wrongdoing but grow into a better player, and a better person.”

Son shared a photo of himself with Lee alongside the Instagram post.

“I am aware that what I did that day wasn’t the best for sure and deserves criticism. But team leaders must do something that cannot please everyone from time to time, for the sake of the team,” Son wrote.

Tottenham's Son Heung-min in action during the English Premier League...

Tottenham's Son Heung-min in action during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Credit: AP/Ian Walton

“And I will surely behave the same for the sake of the team if I were put into the same situation again. Still, I will try to be a wiser team leader in the future. Kang-in has been going through a hard time since then. I, as a South Korean national team leader, seek everyone’s generosity to forgive him.”

Jurgen Klinsmann has since been fired as South Korea’s coach, with Korean Football Association chairman Chung Mong-gyu saying the German “did not live up to our expectations of a national team head coach, nor did he demonstrate leadership.”

Son said reports that there were factions within the team are “nothing close to the truth.”

“All members have a sense of unity as one team trying to accomplish one united goal,” he wrote.

More soccer news

Newsday Logo

ONE-DAYSALEUnlimited Digital Access25¢ for 5 6 months