Endo named Asia's best
© AFP

Japan and Gamba Osaka playmaker Yasuhito Endo has been rewarded for his outstanding performances for both club and country with the 2009 AFC Player of the Year award. The 29-year-old was presented with the honour earlier today at the annual AFC Gala in Kuala Lumpur’s Shangri-La Hotel.

In being crowned the continent’s best, Endo pipped the likes of countryman Kengo Nakamura, Iran centre-half Hadi Aghily, Syria captain Firas Al Khatib and Bahrain’s defensive stalwart Sayed Mohamed Adnan. He also became the fourth Japanese to claim the award, following in the footsteps of Masami Ihara (1995), Hidetoshi Nakata (1997 and 1998) and Shinji Ono (2002).

Speaking exclusively to FIFA.com after the ceremony, Endo said that he considered himself to be a worthy winner. “It an honour for me to win Asia’s Best Player award,” he said. “I am not surprised by winning the title as I have performed more consistently with both club and country for the past year.”

The Japan star’s joy this time around made up for the disappointment of finishing runner-up at last year’s edition behind Server Djeparov of Uzbekistan. It was also a fitting way to cap a memorable year, during which he helped Japan progress to their fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup finals and was an inspirational figure in the Gamba Osaka side who reached the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.

I am not surprised by winning the title as I have performed more consistently with both club and country for the past year.
Yasuhito Endo, AFC Player of the Year

One of the finest midfield talents Japan has produced over the past decade, it is with Gamba that Endo has made his name, scoring 63 goals in 267 appearances. The past year also witnessed his brilliant club form translated into the international arena, where he contributed three goals to his side's successful FIFA World Cup bid. “I hope my success this year will inspire me to play to an even higher level,” said Endo, “and particularly to do my job well with the national team in the year to come.”

Elsewhere at the AFC Gala, Korea Republic and FC Seoul midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung, who scored the decisive goal against Korea DPR that sealed the Taeguk Warriors’ place at South Africa 2010, was crowned AFC Youth Player of the Year. The emerging South Korean star, who has agreed a move to Scottish giants Celtic, was also in dazzling form for FC Seoul as they reached the last eight in the AFC Champions League.

While the lack of senior women's competitions ensured that there was no Women's Player of the Year in 2009, Japanese prodigy Mana Iwabuchi did claim a second successive AFC Women’s Youth Player of the Year award after guiding the Young Nadeshiko to the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship title. The 16-year-old, who also won the adidas Golden Ball at last year’s inaugural FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, has confirmed her status as one of the rising stars of the female game with some stellar showings over the past year.

There was also further cause for celebration in Korea Republic as the achievement of qualifying for a seventh successive FIFA World Cup was recognised, with head coach Huh Jung-Moo obtaining the AFC Coach of the Year award, while the team were named Men’s National Team of the Year.

AFC Player of the Year
Yasuhito Endo (JPN)

AFC Youth Player of the Year (Men)
Ki Sung-Yeung (KOR)

AFC Youth Player of the Year (Women)
Mana Iwabuchi (JPN)

AFC Coach of the Year (Men)
Huh Jung-Moo (KOR)

AFC Club of the Year (Men)
Pohang Steelers (KOR)

AFC National Team of the Year (Men)
Korea Republic

AFC National Team of the Year (Women)
Japan U-19

AFC Diamond of Asia
General Farouk Bouzo

AFC Association of the Year (Men)
Korea DPR

AFC Association of the Year (Women)
Japan Football Association

AFC Fair Play Association of the Year (Men)
Japan Football Association

AFC Fair Play Association of the Year (Women)
Japan Football Association

AFC Referee of the Year (Men)
Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)

AFC Referee of the Year (Women)
Hong Eun Ah (KOR)

AFC Assistant Referee of the Year (Men)
Matthew Cream (AUS)

AFC Assistant Referee of the Year (Women)
Zhang Lingling (CHN)

AFC Match Commissioner of the Year (Men)
Mazen Ramadan (LIB)

AFC Match Commissioner of the Year (Women)
Kanya Keomany (LAO)