AFC Awards

AFC Player of the Year: Lee Keun-ho

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kuala Lumpur: Lee Keun-ho has become the first Korean to be named AFC Player of the Year since the introduction of the Confederation's annual award ceremony in 1994.

Lee put in a series of exceptional performances for club and country throughout the year but it was his exceptional displays for Ulsan Hyundai in the 2012 AFC Champions League that helped the 27-year-old attacker claim Asian football's highest individual accolade ahead of Iran legend Ali Karimi and China's Zheng Zhi.

Lee's livewire performances illuminated the tournament as Ulsan notched up a tournament record nine wins in a row culminating in their comprehensive 3-0 victory over Al Ahli in front of a crowd of more than 42,000 at Ulsan Munsu Stadium.

Lee 's form was particularly important for Ulsan in the knockout stages of the competition, scoring the late winner against Kashiwa Reysol in the Round of 16 before netting in three consecutive games prior to his club's appearance in the final.

On the international stage Lee has played in all four of Korea Republic's matches in the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice in the opening 4-1 fixture against Qatar to help the Taeguek Warriors sit second place Group A with seven points, one behind leaders Uzbekistan but having played a game less than the Central Asians.

AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong presented the prestigious accolade Lee, who said: "It is great to win this trophy specially when you have two great nominees contesting.

"But all three of us are winners tonight as being here itself is a top honour.

"At the moment I feel over the moon, I am really glad to win this award.

"I want to convey my big thanks to Ulsan supporters, my teammates and the football fans of Korea Republic in general. I will do everything I can do to repay the love I have been getting from the fans and my teammates and the club."