Son Heung-min, the esteemed Tottenham ace, has once again proven his mettle by claiming his fifth consecutive Best Footballer in Asia award. This triumph marks his seventh overall win in the nine-year history of this illustrious prize.
In 2021, Son’s remarkable performance for Spurs garnered him immense recognition. With 17 goals in all competitions, he took centre stage, especially during the earlier stages of the season when Harry Kane’s absence left a void. It was a testament to Son’s exceptional abilities that he seamlessly stepped up to fill the gap.
The South Korean superstar didn’t stop there. He continued to shine for his national team, contributing four goals in eight matches. Thanks to his remarkable efforts, the Taegeuk Warriors made an unbeaten start to the third and final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If they continue on this trajectory, they will secure their spot in the tournament for the impressive tenth time.
The Best Footballer in Asia award, often likened to the revered Ballon d’Or, relies on the votes of experts from the Asian Football Confederation’s member associations. In 2021, Son secured a resounding victory, triumphing with 31 first-place votes and a total of 242 points. He outshone Iran’s Sardar Azmoun (111 points) and Mehdi Taremi (90 points) from Zenit and Porto, respectively, who secured the second and third spots.
Salem Al-Dawsari, the Saudi Arabia international who played a vital role in Al Hilal’s record-breaking fourth AFC Champions League title, claimed the fourth position with 74 points. Completing the top five was Japan’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, who made an instant impact following his move to Premier League giants Arsenal from Bologna, securing 50 points.
It’s essential to note that this accolade is not limited to players from AFC nations. International players plying their trade in Asian leagues are also eligible. Hence, the presence of names like Brazil’s Leandro Damiao (12th) from Kawasaki Frontale, Bafetimbi Gomis (13th) from France, who plays for Al Hilal, and the legendary Spanish maestro Andres Iniesta (21st), currently captivating fans at Vissel Kobe in Japan, adds even more prestige to the award.
Son’s reign as the undisputed star of Asian football is exemplified by his consistent wins, only marred by Shinji Okazaki’s exceptional role in Leicester’s miraculous Premier League triumph in 2016. Apart from that instance, Son has dominated this award since its second edition, further cementing his status as the standout footballer of his generation in Asia.
Best Footballer in Asia 2021 Ranking
- Son Heung-min (South Korea) – Tottenham: 242 points
- Sardar Azmoun (Iran) – Zenit: 111 points
- Mehdi Taremi (Iran) – Porto: 90 points
- Salem Al-Dawsari (Saudi Arabia) – Al Hilal: 74 points
- Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan) – Bologna/Arsenal: 50 points
Note: In case of a tie on points, players are ranked based on the number of higher-placed votes they receive unless it is also equal.
Son Heung-min’s incredible achievements continue to captivate fans worldwide, and his impact on Southeast Asian football cannot be overstated. As we celebrate his triumph, let’s acknowledge his unwavering dedication, exceptional skills, and relentless pursuit of excellence. To witness his brilliance firsthand, visit Ekilove for more exciting updates on Son Heung-min and the world of football.