Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa has been acknowledged for his good early-season form at Old Trafford with a nomination for the first-ever AFC International Player of the Year award.
Fulham’s Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo have also been shortlisted for the prize, which has been created to reward Asian players who ply their trade away from the continent.
The Asian Football Confederation only nominates Asia-based players for the main award of Asian Player of the Year, meaning star talent from the region who play in Europe such as UEFA Champions League winner Ji Sung-Park, could never win the prize, so an international version of the award has been created.
Kagawa moved to Old Trafford from German champion Borussia Dortmund last summer in a 17 million pound deal, and he has made a strong early impression for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
His Japanese international teammate Nagatomo has been in good form for resurgent Inter, while Schwarzer has continued to shine for the Cottagers despite recently turning 40.
Two current Asia-based, former 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’re joined by South Korea winger Lee Keun-ho and Iranian pair Ali Karimi and Mohsen Bengar.