Son Heung-min of Tottenham has won the Best Footballer in Asia award for the fifth time in a row, and the seventh time overall in the prize’s nine-year existence. In the absence of Harry Kane, who was initially out of the squad after failing to force a move to another Premier League club Manchester City, the 29-year-old was particularly vital for Spurs in the early parts of the current campaign.
About the South Korean Player, Heung-min Son
Son also continues to play a key role for South Korea, scoring four goals in eight games to help the Taegeuk Warriors go undefeated after six games in the third and final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, keeping them on track to qualify for the tournament for the 10th time.
Experts from 37 of the Asian Football Confederation’s 47-member associations and an additional 13 guest judges vote for their top five players of the calendar year, who are awarded six, four, three, two, and one point, respectively, in the Best Footballer in Asia award, which was first introduced in 2013 and devised as the continent’s equivalent to the Ballon d’Or.
Best Footballer in Asia award for the Fifth Time
Son was the overwhelming winner in 2021, with 31 first-place votes and a total of 242 points, ahead of Iran’s Sardar Azmoun (111 points) and Mehdi Taremi (90 points) of Zenit and Porto, respectively. Salem Al-Dawsari of Saudi Arabia finished fourth with 74 points, while Japan’s Takehiro Tomiyasu (50 points) closed out the top five.
The award is open not only to AFC players, but also to foreigners who play in Asian leagues, as seen by the participation of Kawasaki Frontale’s Leandro Damiao (12th), Al Hilal’s Bafetimbi Gomis (13th), and Spanish maestro Andres Iniesta (21st), who is presently playing for Vissel Kobe in Japan.
Son’s standing as the best Asian player of his generation is further emphasized by the fact that he has won the award every year since its inception, except in 2016, when Shinji Okazaki earned the award for his role in Leicester’s stunning Premier League victory.