New South Korea coach Jurgen Klinsmann wants to get Son Heung-min firing and smiling again, saying Thursday he “felt for him” at the World Cup.
Son won last season’s Premier League Golden Boot but then struggled through the Qatar World Cup with a facial fracture and has been far from his best this term at Tottenham.
As a former Tottenham forward himself and now coach of South Korea, German legend Klinsmann has taken a keen interest in Son’s faltering form for club and country.
The 58-year-old told his introductory press conference in Seoul: “As a former Tottenham player I watch almost all the games from Tottenham and so I am a big fan of Sonny, there’s no doubt.
“But I think this is a normal period that every player goes through, little ups and downs.
“I can give him encouragement and the motivation to enjoy himself and whatever role and however he plays on the field,” Klinsmann added.
Klinsmann will see the 30-year-old Son when he takes charge of South Korea for the first time with a home friendly against Colombia on March 24.
South Korea reached the last 16 at the Qatar World Cup before being thrashed 4-1 by Brazil, but captain Son never got going at the tournament and wore a face mask to protect his eye socket.
“He had a very difficult World Cup because he wasn’t 100 percent healthy,” said Klinsmann.
“I felt for him.”
Klinsmann won the World Cup as a player and had a successful career at clubs such as Inter Milan, Tottenham and Bayern.
But some South Korean fans have questioned his record as a coach.
He took charge of his native Germany in 2004 and led them to third place in the 2006 World Cup on home soil, losing to eventual winners Italy in the semi-finals.
He went on to manage Bayern and the United States.
His last coaching job was a 10-week stint in charge of Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga more than three years ago.
Klinsmann, who signed a three-and-a-half year contract with the Korea Football Association, wants to win the Asian Cup early next year.
“We are only 10 months away from the Asian Cup in Qatar so I need to learn quickly,” he said.
“I am confident to do that.”