Son wins 'Asian Ballon d'Or' for fifth year in a row
Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min was named Best Footballer in Asia for the fifth year in a row on Monday, taking the award, sometimes called the Asian Ballon d'Or, for the seventh time in its nine-year history.
Son received 242 points in the vote made mainly by experts from Asia's biggest leagues, far outpacing Sardar Azmoun of Iran who came second with 111 points.
Three other Koreans made the list: Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Hwang Hee-chan came in at No. 9, Al Hilal defender Jang Hyun-soo at No. 22 and Rubin Kazan midfielder Hwang In-beom at No. 28.
Son had another strong year, with 17 goals scored throughout 2021 for Tottenham and four for Korea. He also made history along with teammate Harry Kane as the greatest playmaking partnership in a single Premier League season with 14 goals in the 2020-21 season.
The Best Footballer in Asia award was created by Chinese newspaper Titan Sports in 2013 as an Asian answer to the Ballon d'Or. Son has made the top three every year since 2014, coming first in 2014 and 2015, third in a very tight race in 2016, and then first every year since.
The award is eligible to any player that originated from an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) nation or plays for an AFC team. Last year, Ulsan Hyundai's Brazilian striker Junior Negrao finished third as the representative of an AFC team, even though he comes from South America.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]