'Three weeks were tough': Son Heung-min opens up on military service

‘There were ten people in one room so we got very close’: Son Heung-min opens up on ‘three tough weeks’ completing South Korean military service… and Tottenham star confirms he has made a full recovery from his broken arm

  • Tottenham forward Son Heung-min has completed his military service
  • The 27-year-old spent three weeks in the South Korean Military Corps 
  • He was reportedly awarded the Pilsung prize, and excelled in shooting skills
  • Son says he has made a full recovery from the broken arm sustained in February 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Son Heung-min has spoken about ‘three tough weeks’ of military service in his native South Korea during the coronavirus crisis. 

The Tottenham forward used the pause of football to take the time to complete his mandatory national service in the South Korean Military Corps. 

Reportedly awarded South Korea’s Pilsung prize, Son excelled in shooting skills, was the top performer among 157 trainees and the 27-year-old – who is exempt from the full 21-month service after winning the Asian Games with his country in 2018 – admitted it was a ‘good experience.’

Son used the pause in football to complete his military service in his native South Korea

The Tottenham forward at his completion ceremony in Jeju, South Korea on May 8 


‘I couldn’t say everything that I’ve done but I enjoyed it. The three weeks were tough,’ Son told Tottenham’s YouTube channel. 

‘On the first days no one knew each other so it was a bit weird, but soon we got to know each other. You have to spend every day together, there were ten people in one room so we got very close.

‘We were working together, helping each other. In the first days the other guys couldn’t even speak to me but by the end we were joking and enjoying together.’

The Tottenham forward is now fully fit and has returned to training ahead of the June 17 restart

Having returned to training in London, the forward confirmed he has made a full recovery from the broken arm suffered in Spurs’ Premier League game against Aston Villa on February 16. 

Son managed to play on for 90 minutes, and scored twice including a last-minute winner, after sustaining the injury in the opening moments of the game at Villa Park. 

Son fractured his arm in the victory against Aston Villa on February 16, yet he still scored twice

‘It’s been a very busy three months – I felt very bad after the Villa game,’ Son added.

‘I didn’t realise how bad that was. I went to the hospital and saw the X-ray, I was shocked. It was painful because football is my life… not training with the guys, not enjoying football. 

‘I’m very excited because after the military service, I missed the guys. I’ve almost seen every player come back with a smile, and it’s an amazing feeling.’ 

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Inter Milan 'offer three-year deal to Edinson Cavani'

Inter Milan ‘offer three-year deal to Edinson Cavani’ as they sneak ahead of Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle in race for PSG star

  • Inter Milan are thought to be leading the race to sign PSG striker Edinson Cavani 
  • The forward is out of contract in June with several clubs chasing his signature 
  • Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Newcastle have also been linked 
  • But a longer and secure deal could be more tempting for the 33-year-old 

Inter Milan are leading the race to sign Edinson Cavani after offering the striker a three-year deal, according to reports.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who is out of contract this summer, has been linked with a move to Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Newcastle but could be on his way to Serie A.

According to French outlet L’Equipe, Antonio Conte’s side are prepared to offer him a secure future with a three-year deal.

Inter Milan are leading the race to sign Edinson Cavani after offering him a three-year-deal

The PSG striker is out of contract this summer and has been linked with several different clubs

It would be a bold move by the Italians with Cavani set to be 36 by the time the contract expired.

The report claims Inter are the favourites to secure his signature because of his previous experience in Serie A with Palermo and Napoli.

Newcastle would perhaps be able to offer him more playing time but the Italians are likely to have Champions League football next season.

A longer deal may be more tempting to the forward who would be 36 by the time it expired

Manchester United and Atletico are also in the running but the proposition of a longer deal may be more tempting. 

Cavani was heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in January but a move failed to materialise and he ended up staying in Paris.

However, reports last month suggested the forward was open to extending his contract with PSG with the club looking at saving money in the transfer market.  

The Uruguayan has managed seven goals and three assists in all competitions this season after featuring more heavily since the turn of the year.

France’s Ligue 1 season was cancelled at the end of April due to the pandemic with PSG being awarded the title.

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Lane Kiffin Bowl? Three questions Ole Miss, USC will answer before 2025

USC and Ole Miss scheduled a future home-and-home series in 2025-26 on Monday, and that immediately brought former USC coach Lane Kiffin into focus.  

That was acknowledged on Twitter.  

Kiffin, of course, compiled a 28-15 record at USC from 2010 to 2013 but was fired on the airport tarmac after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 28, 2013.  

That potential matchup is a long way off, but it still evokes three questions about Kiffin’s potential return to Los Angeles.  

Will Kiffin still be at Ole Miss?  

Kiffin’s turned his coaching career around after the stint at USC. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama for three years before taking a head coaching job at FAU — where he led the Owls to a pair of Conference-USA championships.  

Kiffin is back in the SEC with Ole Miss — and he would theoretically be in his sixth season in 2025. David Cutcliffe is the last Rebels’ coach to make it more than five seasons.  

Kiffin could flame out, or he could have enough success that an even bigger Power 5 job could be waiting. Kiffin hasn’t stayed in one place for more than five years since he was an assistant coach with the Trojans from 2001 to 2006.  

Will we still be talking about Clay Helton?  

Helton enters another pivotal season now in new athletic director Mike Bohn’s first full season, and the embattled USC coach has compiled a 13-12 record the past two seasons.  

Helton does have a talented roster returning, led by quarterback Kedon Slovis and receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, but the pressure to return to the Pac-12 championship game is high heading into the 2020 season.  

If the Trojans struggle this season, then the noise around Helton will continue. That comes in the form of more Urban Meyer rumors along with the remorse from letting Ed Orgeron go to LSU after his interim stint in 2013.  

That said, Helton has USC back on track on the recruiting trail. The Trojans currently have the No. 5 class for 2021, according to 247Sports.com. 

Can he keep that momentum going through 2025? That remains to be seen.  

Which program will be in better shape?  

USC had an 86-45 record from 2010 to 2019, the 17th-best mark among Power 5 programs. The Trojans have had ups and downs, and Kiffin was the first of three replacements since Pete Carroll left after the 2009 season.  

The Trojans’ expectations, however, are to get back to the level to which Carroll took the program. USC has won the Pac-12 championship game just once in nine seasons. That’s not the expectation for the blue-blood program, and Helton is tasked with, at minimum, getting back to that level of success. USC isn’t going to wait five years for another conference championship.  

Ole Miss finished 10-3 and reached the Sugar Bowl under Hugh Freeze in 2015, but the program also forfeited 33 victories as part of NCAA sanctions at the end of the Freeze era. Kiffin is tasked with leading the program to success in the toughest division in the FBS without getting the program in more trouble with the NCAA.  

Both programs have challenges over the next five years, but this home-and-home will be extra special if Kiffin is still around.  

It will mean his stint at Ole Miss worked.  

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Odion Ighalo thanks three Manchester United 'brothers' for helping him settle in

Odion Ighalo says he’s been made to feel like family since joining Manchester United and has thanked ‘brothers’ Juan Mata, David de Gea and Sergio Romero for helping him settle in at the club.

The 30-year-old striker completed a loan move from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to Old Trafford in the January transfer window, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperate for attacking reinforcements following Marcus Rashford’s back injury.

Eyebrows were raised at the deal considering the standard of the Chinese Super League but Ighalo has hit the ground running on his return to the Premier League, scoring four goals in his opening eight appearances for the Red Devils.

There are now suggestions United could sign Ighalo permanently for a fee of around £15million after his outstanding start.

Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

Ighalo, a lifelong United fan, took little convincing to join once Solskjaer’s interest became known and the forward has revealed that the move was made even easier thanks to three Spanish-speaking members of the squad.

‘I have a lot of guys there who have helped me. The guys in the dressing room are very good guys,’ the Nigeria international said during an Instagram Q&A session on Tuesday afternoon.

‘The first time I stepped my feet in that dressing room – wow. There are two or three players that took me and made me feel welcome and comfortable.

‘After two or three days we started living like brothers, like I’ve been there for five years, laughing together and cracking jokes together.

‘Especially Juan Mata, De Gea and the other goalkeeper Romero, because they speak Spanish and I speak Spanish.’

Ighalo has been happy to prove his initial doubters wrong after a barnstorming start to life in the north west.

‘Firstly it was, “Why are you going to England?”, with your age and all and that it is one of the biggest teams in the world,’ the ex-Watford attacker added.

‘Number two, nobody gave me a chance but I know I’m a hard worker.

‘I don’t get carried away, I don’t listen. I do my work and just remain focused. When I came to Manchester United I pictured what I wanted to attain but I did not say a word, I did not go solo.

‘People on social media can always talk but you do not need to speak to people that you do not know. You must focus and do your job. The same people that criticise you will praise you when you do well and when they praise you, you can’t get carried away.

‘I am telling you, If I miss one chance now they will insult me, you understand? [Now] It’s, “Ighalo you are the best”, but okay, one chance I miss and they will insult me so do not get carried away with hype, praise or criticism because those things are bound to happen.’

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Duke vs. Butler, 2010: Three misconceptions about the unforgettable NCAA championship game

I was sitting courtside for The Greatest Shot That Almost Was, and you could have almost drawn a straight line that started from my seat, connected to Gordon Hayward and went on to the basket at the far end of the court. Hayward was slightly left of a perfectly straight line.

As Hayward launched The Greatest Shot That Almost Was, the clock expiring as the ball was in flight at the end of the 2010 NCAA Tournament national championship game between Hayward’s upstart Butler Bulldogs and the blueblood Duke Blue Devils, I had this thought: “I’m watching the greatest shot in the history of the NCAA Tournament.” 

PHOTOS: Top moments from Butler-Duke championship game 

That’s how on-line Hayward’s heave was, and how long it was in the air. I was, quite honestly, stunned when the ball failed to flow through the net. Butler’s Cinderella dream ended that day. It was just a coincidence of scheduling, but I had been courtside for all six of Butler’s games that year, and I’d seen a bit of magic along the way. I was a believer. 

I’ll be watching on Sunday as CBS shows that classic game, a bit of a time-filler for what should have been an Elite Eight game between two teams dreaming of a spot in the Final Four and two fan bases resisting the urge to check flight prices so as to not jinx their favorite school. Here’s what you need to know if you want to watch, too. 

Duke vs. Butler, 2010 NCAA Tournament championship game

When: Sunday, 4 p.m. ET
Where: CBS
Seeds: Duke, 1 seed; Butler, 5 seed
Score: Duke 61, Butler 59 

This game was sold, on the larger national scale, as David vs. Goliath. The mighty ACC school vs. the tiny Horizon League upstart. Even the Associated Press recap of that thriller mentioned Butler’s small student enrollment within the first 10 paragraphs. 

But those inside the sport knew that wasn’t accurate. In fact, here are three misconceptions that were sold nationally but weren’t really true: 

1. Tiny school, only scrappy talent

The truth: Butler had better NBA talent than Duke. 

My longtime Sporting News colleague, Hall of Fame writer Mike DeCourcy, was sitting about a dozen seats closer to halfcourt for this contest, and he’d spent most of the tournament telling anyone who asked that Gordon Hayward was a legit NBA talent, not some scrappy “Hoosiers”-esque overachiever from a small school in Indiana.

I asked him about it this weekend, just to make sure my recollection was accurate, and this was his response: “That’s correct. I went to the (USA Under-)19 team trials that year, after Gordon‘s freshman year and before sophomore year. And I told everyone the two best players in the gym were Gordon Hayward and Klay Thompson.”

Both teams had two players drafted. Hayward left after that tournament run, his sophomore season, and was picked No. 9 in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Jazz. He has had an outstanding NBA career, including an All-Star nod in his last season with Utah. His teammate Shelvin Mack stuck around one more year and helped Butler get back to the title game, then left for the NBA and was the fourth pick in the second round of the 2011 draft.

That was, coincidentally, one spot after Duke’s Kyle Singler was picked. Singler was the second player from that Duke team selected in the 2011 draft; Nolan Smith was the 21st pick of the first round. Mack, though, played more NBA games (456) than Smith and Singler combined (440). 

2. The coaching matchup was lopsided in Duke’s favor

The truth: Mike Krzyzewski is a true basketball coaching legend, a giant who entered that game with three national titles already under his belt. That part of the debate isn’t part of the misconception. It turns out that Brad Stevens knew a thing or two about coaching, too, because not only did he lead Butler to the national championship game as a 5 seed in 2010, he also led the Bulldogs back to the title game in 2011, as an 8 seed — after losing the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. That’s just not supposed to happen at a school like Butler. Stevens helped his players find a way.

And then, of course, the NBA came calling. All the speculation — mostly after his second trip to the title game — about his next possible move centered around college jobs. Was he destined to take over at Indiana? Would he be the eventual successor to Krzyzewski at Duke? Basically, if the coach of your favorite big-time program was either struggling or even sniffing retirement age, Stevens was atop your wish list. 

But then the Celtics, who were at the end of an era with veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and others, brought Stevens in to replace Doc Rivers and build the next wave of success. After a couple of rebuilding years, Stevens’ Celtics have a 248-144 record over the past five seasons, a hefty .633 winning percentage. 

3. This was Butler’s once-in-a-lifetime March

The truth: Well, that wasn’t the case. What’s more impressive than a run to the title game as a No. 5 seed? A run to the national title game as a No. 8 seed, the year after losing your best player to the NBA as the ninth overall pick in the draft. 

And, sure, maybe nobody really saw that second run coming — the Bulldogs needed a miracle to win their tournament opener in 2011 — but maybe we should have. Stevens was still there, and so was Mack and Matt Howard (who had a long pro career overseas) and heady point guard Ronald Nored and a supporting cast that was practically perfect. 

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs didn’t win that one, either, falling to UConn 53-41 in a game where neither team could get much of anything to fall through the net. 

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