Son Heung-min voices 'worry' over talented 'friend' Bae Junho

South Korea and Tottenham captain Heung-min Son is taking a close interest in the development of his friend Bae Junho, the Stoke City player of the season.
-Credit: (Image: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur and South Korea captain Son Heung-min has made a personal plea to supporters as the spotlight intensifies on bright young hope Bae Junho.

Junho, aged 20, has been propelled into a new hero at club and international level over the last few months. He was crowned Stoke City player of the season after his debut campaign in England, showing the kind of form which earned him a first senior South Korea call-up this month. He then scored on his international debut with a smart finish in a 7-0 World Cup qualifying tie thrashing of SIngapore.

Son has taken Junho under his wing over the last week, even if the latter admitted he was a little awestruck on their first meeting - and now he has made what the local press is describing as "a sincere intervention" when asked about the youngster's potential.

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"Junho is receiving a lot of expectations and attention," said Son in a press conference ahead of a match against China in Seoul today.

"He is doing well and he is the youngest member of the Korean national team. In fact, I am a little worried. I have seen not only in Korea but also in Europe that when young players receive a lot of spotlight, it can lead to bad situations.

“It’s because... When it comes to (Lee) Kang-in, I've always said, 'I hope you can just watch Kang-in grow,' and the same goes for Junho. He's a friend with a lot of talent, so he's probably already under a lot of pressure. This pressure... Aren’t all Korean fans on the same page as us? We need to help them do well."

Kang-in, aged 23, signed for Paris Saint-Germain last summer for about €22 million as he emerges as one of the main players in the South Korea camp.

Junho joined Stoke from Daejeon Hana Citizen last August on a four-year contract. He had come to scouts' attention with his performances at the under-20s World Cup in May and June, when he helped his side reach the semi-finals.

South Korea midfielder Hwang In-beom, who is also from Daejeon, told press this week: “When it comes to the title ‘Son of Daejeon’ I have nothing else to say other than that I am a native of Daejeon.

"Bae Junho's abilities and potential as a soccer player are much better than mine. He is still young, and considering his personality and tendencies, he is a player who will grow several times more than he is now."

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