AFC Foreign Player of the Year 2015: Ricardo Goulart
Brazilian striker Ricardo Goulart became the second Guangzhou Evergrande player to be named AFC Foreign Player of the Year since the introduction of the award in 2012, with this year’s AFC Champions League MVP and Top Scorer receiving the prestigious individual accolade ahead of compatriot Everton Ribeiro, who plays for 2015 ACL runners-up Al Ahli, and Kitchee’s Spainish striker Juan Belencoso.
Goulart, who joined Guangzhou Evergrande on a four-year contract from Brazilian side Cruzeiro in January, made a blistering start to the 2015 ACL, scoring his first goal for the club as the Chinese champions opened their continental campaign with a 1-0 win over FC Seoul.
The 24-year-old then became an instant hero with the fans at his new club when he scored a hat-trick in Guangzhou’s 3-2 away victory over Western Sydney Wanderers, the 2014 ACL winners who eliminated Guangzhou in the quarter-finals of last year’s tournament.
Goulart continued on the goalscoring trail, finding the net twice in the 4-3 home win over Kashima Antlers and another two against Seongnam and although he was unable to add to his individual tally of eight, his creativity and attacking guile contributed to Guangzhou’s progress in the 2015 AFC Champions League, which culminated in their 1-0 aggregate victory over Al Ahli in this year’s final.