Son Heung-min of Korea acknowledges fans after the team's 1-1 draw against Thailand in a Group C match in the second round of the Asian World Cup qualification tournament at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul, March 21. Yonhap

In the aftermath of Korea’s latest World Cup qualifying match Thursday night, captain Son Heung-min admitted he had recently contemplated retiring from international play.

But Son said he decided to continue on with the national team because he wanted to honor a promise with his supporters.

“Playing for the national team is a promise between myself and fans,” Son said, following Korea’s 1-1 draw with Thailand in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup at Seoul World Cup Stadium. “I absolutely want to honor that. I am going to keep my head down and play hard. And I hope I can grow into a stronger person, so that I won’t ever think about quitting again.”

Son, 31, reached the verge of ending his international career at the end of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Qatar last month. Korea lost to Jordan 2-0 in the semifinals, as they failed to end their 64-year title drought. The elimination cost head coach Jurgen Klinsmann 카지노사이트킹 his job, and the national team was later embroiled in a series of off-field issues, including a scuffle between Son and his teammate Lee Kang-in over a game of table tennis before the semifinal match.

Right after the Jordan loss, and before his incident with Lee was revealed, Son hinted at ending his international career. He later told his Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur, that the week following the Asian Cup was one of the most difficult ones of his life.

“I’ve never once taken my spot on the national team for granted. I’ve felt grateful and honored every time,” Son said. “But if I had thought only about myself, I think I would have quit.”

After speaking with some former players, including past national team captains Park Ji-sung and Ki Sung-yueng, Son said he was able to join the national team this month with a renewed focus.

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