Rafael van der Vaart has defended Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min during an interview with the Evening Standard, after the attacker was sent off on Saturday.
Son, 26, was shown a red card by referee Craig Pawson during the first half as Spurs lost 1-0 to AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium. Spurs finished the game with nine men, as Juan Foyth joined Son in being sent off.
The South Korea captain looked to tussle the ball off of Bournemouth midfielder Jefferson Lerma, but did so aggressively and was shown a red card. It sees him banned for the next three domestic games.
It means Son is available to face Ajax in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, and van der Vaart defended Son ahead of the second-leg clash – stating that he liked that side of Son.
“It sounds silly, but I like it [the shove],” Van der Vaart said. “It’s not smart but sometimes you need that kind energy. It shows he hates losing. I’m not a player any more, I’m a fan. I want to see somebody who wants to fight.
“When I played with him he was 18 or 19 and a little bit shy. It’s not really that he was quiet but sometimes you have to step up. He was always so nice to everybody and he wouldn’t say, ‘Give me the effing ball and I’ll do it’.”
It is a difficult one, because Son’s rush of blood could now ruin Tottenham’s chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League. Arguably their most important player with Harry Kane injured, he is now suspended.
Spurs’ defeat to Ajax in the first Champions League semi-final leg showed that Spurs missed him. But van der Vaart’s point is fair, because Spurs need to show some fight.
In recent weeks they have been soft – especially against Ajax – with no bite. A bit of £140k-a-week star (Spotrac) Son’s aggression and passion is okay, if it is the right amount.