This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Stan Collymore has delivered an incredibly cynical verdict on Tottenham Hotspur attacker Son Heung-Min, suggesting that he intentionally overreacted after his tackle led to the Everton midfielder Andre Gomes suffering a fracture-dislocation of his ankle, per The Daily Mirror.
The South Korea international tackled his Portuguese counterpart on the left wing with Spurs 1-0 up, and Gomes subsequently sustained a horror injury that left many on the pitch and in the stands nearby in visible distress.
None more so than Son, who was in tears, and was subsequently sent off by referee Martin Atkinson.
Collymore, though, thinks that the 27-year-old’s reaction, and that of Serge Aurier, was the “most uncomfortable” aspect of the whole situation – apparently even more uncomfortable than a professional footballer painfully breaking his ankle.
He expands: “But, for a while now, I have been bothered that players and managers seem to think they must show an extreme version of their emotions because of the comeback they will get if they do not.
“The way Son reacted made it look like he thought football — the referee, the authorities, fans at home and in the crowd, opponents – was going to come down on him like a ton of bricks, even though we could all see he didn’t deliberately go out to cause Gomes’ injury.
“Nowadays, footballers seemingly have to go over the top to present themselves before the court of public opinion and that needs to stop.”
Context is important, here.
Collymore is a man who has dealt with depression throughout his life and has bravely opened up about his struggles in the past.
As a result, he should know that extreme emotion is not something that one person can control. To watch the clip of the injury again is to see Son apologise for his late tackle and then see the damage done to Gomes’ ankle.
It left him distraught to the point where Everton’s captain Seamus Coleman actually went into the away dressing room after the full-time whistle to comfort him and let him know that the Toffees players did not hold any ill-will towards him.
That is the reaction of someone who understood the emotional toll an injury like that can take on the player who has inadvertently caused it.
What Collymore has done, though, is reduce that emotion to a show; he is suggesting that Son knew that cameras were on him and that fans were watching, so feigned or exaggerated a reaction in order to garner sympathy – or at the very least, protect himself.
Various reports since contradict that; The Athletic, for example, reported that Son was “in shock” after the final whistle and went straight home, having switched off his phone. Mirror Football report that he could be left out of Spurs’ Champions League clash due to concerns over his mental well-being.
That is simply the kind of man he is. For Collymore to reduce that, in an article that is actually only around 11 sentences long, to something that Son has essentially manufactured is incredibly unfair and he should really apologise.
It is all very well trying to bring clicks into a website, but he is commenting on one man’s emotional and mental state after a traumatic event.
He, more than most, ought to know that he should have kept his mouth shut rather than criticising someone during a particularly testing time.