After working tirelessly to become one of the world’s greatest soccer stars, Son Heung-min has successfully managed to build an inspiring professional career for himself over the years. As a forward for the English Premier League professional club Tottenham Hotspur, and captain of the South Korean soccer team, the athlete has quite the experience in knowing what does and doesn’t work in becoming a professional athlete.
In a recent interview with CNBC, the soccer star shared some beneficial tips on working towards going pro and how to handle the different pressures that come along with being in the sports industry. Like NASCAR predictions, many fans and supporters found the information helpful as hundreds of athletes still starting in the industry are working on reaching higher ranks.
In his interview with CNBC’s Arabile Gumede this past Friday, Heung-min shared the most significant lessons that he learned along the way and added on to say, “Sleep well, eat well, and do what you need, you know, like stay in the training ground when you need six hours, seven hours, eight hours.”
He then spoke strongly about making sport a priority even with the different distractions that will come along now and then. Here, he says, “You have so many options, like, I don’t know, like video games, or like, that you always want to do more, you know, like, playing with friends. I think you should always be thinking the number one thing is football.”
At just 16 years old, Heung-min left South Korea to be a part of Hamburger SV, a German soccer club. It’s here, in 2010, that he made his very first appearance in a highly-ranked European soccer league.
In 2015, shortly after spending time playing for Bayer Leverkusen, Son went on to score a contract worth £22 million for London-based Tottenham. During the interview, he also added, “I think the lessons are just don’t try to chase your happiness.”
He then spoke about how people are constantly searching for happiness within their careers and personal lives when they can attain it by being grateful for what they have and appreciative of what’s in front of them, especially with friends, family, and careers.
When sharing his story and life lessons with CNBC and viewers, he spoke about how all these key moments became clear to him right before the World Cup tournament that took place in Qatar just last year. The soccer star got injured after suffering a fracture around his one eye, forcing him to continue the game with a protective face mask.
It’s here that he shares how unsure he was about being able to get the South Korean soccer team into the leading international tournament. He said, “I was there, so I was playing with the mask. I think it’s just a lesson that I learned because I think positively. […] Happiness is the most important thing.”
Other lessons he shared were on dealing with the pressures of being a pro athlete. He says that much of his ability to cope and manage all the pressure he faced was thanks to his family, and he then went on to speak about the importance of making those close to you aware of your mental health. He said, “I’m sad, they’re sad, we are happy, and we’re all happy. You can always share the feelings; you can always go with the family.”
Top Tips on How to Become a Professional Athlete
Like everything Son Heung-min shared in his interview, a lot goes into establishing a pro-athlete career. Consequently, this comes with many pressures, including being expected to perform consistently at your best, knowing how to manage your finances, and living up to expectations from the team, sponsors, and fans.
Of course, becoming a professional athlete won’t happen overnight; therefore, it’s essential to embrace the journey by doing the following:
• Being realistic
• Starting your career as early as possible
• Studying the sport
• Focusing on your diet and health
• Planning your career from a professional point
• Dealing with sports federations