Manchester United's Kagawa up for AFC International Player of the Year award

The Japanese midfielder and Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer are on the three-man shortlist, along with Inter defender Yuto Nagatomo
Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa has been acknowledged for his performances in 2012 with a nomination for the first-ever AFC International Player of the Year award.

Fulham’s 40-year-old Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has also been shortlisted for the prize, which has been created to reward Asian players who ply their trade away from the continent.

The AFC only nominates Asia-based players for the main award - Asian Player of the Year - meaning star talent from the region who play in Europe, such as Champions League winner Park Ji-Sung, could never win the prize, so an international version of the award has been created.

Kagawa moved to Old Trafford from German champions Borussia Dortmund last summer in a €21 million deal, and has made a solid early impression at Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

His Japanese international team-mate Yuto Nagatomo, who is also on the shortlist for the prize, has been in good form for Inter, while Fulham keeper Schwarzer has continued to shine for the Cottagers despite recently turning 40.

Two Asia-based ex-Premier League players have been listed for the Asian Player of the Year award.

Ex-Everton, West Ham and Blackburn defender Lucas Neill, who plays for Al Wasl in the UAE, and Zheng Zhi, who had a spell with Charlton Athletic, are both in with a chance of winning the gong.

They are joined by South Korea winger Lee Keun-Ho and Iranian pair Ali Karimi and Mohsen Bengar.