Kim Min-jae, pictured, was picked as “Asian International Player of the Year” by the Asian Football Confederation on Nov. 1. (AP/Yonhap)
Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae has been named “Asian International Player of the Year” by the Asian Football Confederation.
Kim, 26, received the honor at the 2022 AFC Annual Awards, which were held Wednesday at the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha, Qatar.
Kim is the second Korean player to receive the award, which is given to the best player from an AFC member state who leaves his home country to play in foreign leagues.
Son Heung-min, with Tottenham Hotspur, has previously won the award three times, in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Kim is the second defender to win the honor, following Japanese player Yuto Nagatomo.
After previously playing for the Fenerbahçe SK club in Türkiye, Kim transferred in July 2022 to Italy’s SSC Napoli, which enjoyed a Serie A victory in the 2022–23 season.
In July 2023, he was transferred once again to Germany’s FC Bayern Munich, where he established himself as a key player in the center back position during the 2023–24 season.
On the national team, Kim contributed significantly to South Korea reaching the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
In a message posted to its official website, the AFC wrote, “Kim was a colossus as the Italian side [SSC Napoli] also reached the UEFA Champions League last eight for the first time in their illustrious history.”
“The 26-year-old kept 16 clean sheets, scored two goals and provided two assists in 33 matches as the Blues marched to their first Scudetto in 33 years,” it added.
At the Ballon d’Or award ceremony held on Tuesday, Kim came in at No. 22 in the rankings, becoming the first Asian defender to make it on the list. Kim’s ranking was the second-highest of any Asian player, following Son’s No. 11 placement last year.
The AFC picked Salem al Dawsari of Al Hilal as men’s player of the year and Sam Kerr of Chelsea as women’s player of the year.
By Chung In-seon, staff reporter
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