AFC Asian International Player of the Year 2015: Son Heung-min
New Delhi: Korea Republic star Son Heung-min has been named the AFC Asian International Player of the Year after shining for club and country in a year that saw the sublimely talented 23-year-old become the most expensive Asian footballer in history.
Son, whose 30 million Euros move from Bayer Leverkusen to Tottenham Hotspur in August broke the record held since 2001 when two-time AFC Player of the Year Hidetoshi Nakata moved from Parma to Roma for 25 million Euros, was named AFC International Player of the Year ahead of compatriot Ki Sung-yeung - who was also nominated for the award last year - and AFC Asian Cup MVP Massimo Luongo.
Having shone in German football since moving to Hamburg’s youth academy from FC Seoul in 2008, Son traded the Bundesliga for the English Premier League in August 2015, ending on a positive note by scoring 17 goals in the 2014/15 season, which included a hat-trick against VfL Wolfsburg in February.
And Leverkusen’s most expensive signing would not take long in winning the hearts of the White Hart Lane faithful, with his first two goals in a Spurs shirt coming in a 3-1, 2015/16 Europa League win over Qarabag before his maiden strike in a 1-0 victory over London rivals Crystal Palace in September gave Tottenham Hotspur their first home win in this season’s English Premier League.
Although Korean fans have never seen Son strut his stuff in the K League Classic, he has delighted the followers of the Taeguek Warriors on the international stage. Son scored both goals in Korea Republic’s 2-0 AFC Asian Cup quarter-final win over Uzbekistan and one in the final as the inaugural continental champions had to settle for a runners-up finish behind hosts Australia as the gifted forward cemented his place in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup ‘team of the tournament’