Heung-Min Son feels “responsible” for Antonio Conte’s Tottenham exit because of his indifferent form on the pitch.
Conte left Spurs on Sunday following a week of intense speculation suggesting his days were numbered after an underwhelming run of form.
The final straw proved to be the 3-3 draw at Southampton – during which Spurs led 3-1 before a late collapse – and Conte’s remarkable post-match tirade, which saw him blast his players as “selfish”.
Conte also appeared to aim criticism at the club’s hierarchy during his rant but reportedly clarified to bosses a few days later that all comments were targeted at the players.
Nevertheless, his employers seemingly decided the relationship between Conte and the club had reached breaking point, with a divorce by “mutual agreement” announced.
Son, speaking on international duty, could not help but feel partly to blame, with the South Korea international’s form suffering a significant drop-off this season. He shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot last term with 23 goals but has managed only six in 26 appearances in 2022-23.
“As a player, I’m very sorry to him,” Son told reporters after South Korea’s 2-1 defeat to Uruguay.
“He is a world-class manager and we had a great journey together, I thank him a lot. I don’t know how other players are thinking about him, but I’m sorry to him.
“I should have shown more, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help the team and I feel responsible because the coach took responsibility and left the club.”
Son added: “He has great skills and experience as a coach, I’m sure he’ll have great success in his future career.”
Conte’s assistant Cristian Stellini has been placed in charge until the end of the season, or until Spurs appoint a new head coach.
Julian Nagelsmann, recently sacked by Bayern Munich, is rumoured to be among the frontrunners, while former Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with a return.