Introducing Lee Keun-Ho: AFC Player of the Year

The forward became the first Korean player in 21 years to win the award and reviewed his successful 12 months
Ulsan Hyundai won the AFC Champions League with a brand of fabulous counterattacking football and by maximising the ability of striker Kim Shin-Wook.

Korean fans had taken to Ulsan's football, but coach Kim Ho-Gon signed Lee Keun-Ho in January and made his side's style more complete, with his speed giving the team an additional attacking weapon.

This season was Lee's last before embarking on military service and he could hardly have done more with a string of performances that highlighted his growing maturity.

In the K-League, Lee scored eight goals and made four assists in 32 games. That statistic in itself cannot solely describe his contribution. In total he won four official player of the week awards this season, with only one other player surpassing that total in Kwak Tae-Hui, Ulsan's defender and captain, with five.

The AFC Champions League was the stage where Lee rose to prominence. He played all 12 games, scored four goals and assisted a further seven.

More importantly his four goals were scored in the tournament stage, as he saved his finest displays for high profile encounters, an effort that was undoubtedly key in him winning the MVP award in the competition.

Lee flourished for the national team as well. He played eight games for South Korea and scored five goals. After Park Ji-Sung's retirement and Lee Chung-Yong's lengthy injury, the nation lacked quality wingers, but Lee was quick to rise to the task and solve the problem.

In a friendly against Australia last month he showed just how important he has become to the national team.

Korea dominated game with an attack led by Lee and Lee Seung-Ki and scored first with Lee Dong-Gook's 11th minute goal. But after the Ulsan man departed the field with an injury just shy of the half hour mark, Australia began to turn the tide and eventually ran out 2-1 winners.

It has been a truly great year for him at both domestic and international level and in the end the decision to hand him the award was a simple one.

For the next two years Lee will play for Sangju Sangmu, South Korea's military team, after participating in the Fifa Club World Cup.

It will be a disappointing step down for him in the second division with the player in the form of his career, though he is determined to remain positive.

"I'll try to give my best performances until the very last moment so that I go to Sangju in good mood."

A fitting display of commitment to conclude a fine 12 months.