Endo picks up top Asian gong

by Neil Sherwin

Japanese midfielder Yasuhito Endo has picked up the AFC Player of the Year at an awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week.

The Gamba Osaka star overcame international compatriot Kengo Nakamura, Bahrain’s Sayed Mohamed Adnan, Iran’s Hadi Aghily, and Syria captain Firas Al Khatib to scoop the award.

“It was my goal to win this year and I got it,” he said.

“I am honoured to win this award. Last year I was nominated but I did not win. I will continue to strive to play a better football.”

Endo is the fourth Japanese player to win the award, after Masami Ihara (1995), Hidetoshi Nakata (1997-98) and Shinji Ono (2002).

South Korea picked up the Team of the Year trophy, while their manager Huh Jung Moo was honoured as the Coach of the Year.

Only players plying their trade in Asia are eligible for the awards, ruling out the likes of Manchester United’s Ji Sung Park.

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