Kuala Lumpur: A breakout star at national, continental and international levels, Islamic Republic of Iran’s Mehdi Ghayedi is Asia’s Choice for the Best Young Player of 2020.
The award recognises Asian men’s players (aged 23 or younger on December 31, 2020) for their performances in senior club and youth and senior national teams during the 2020 calendar year.
Ghayedi edged out countryman Mehdi Abdi Qara to win the award, with Korea Republic’s AFC U23 Championship Most Valuable Player Won Du-jae finishing third.
A creative forward who turned 22 in December, Ghayedi enjoyed a superb year for club side Esteghlal, attracting attention throughout the continent with three goals in five matches in the AFC Champions League.
He also scored in IR Iran’s Hazfi Cup final, which Esetghlal lost to FC Tractor, and finished as the Iran Pro League’s top provider of assists as his side finished the 2019-20 season as runners-up.
After appearing at the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 last January, Ghayedi made his senior international debut for IR Iran against Uzbekistan in October and scored his maiden goal for Team Melli in his second appearance, against Bosnia-Herzegovina the following month.
How they finished: Asia’s Choice – Best Young Player of 2020
Top 10 Total Points
- Mehdi Ghayedi (Esteghlal/IRN) 24.40
- Mehdi Abdi (Persepolis FC/IRN) 21.37
- Won Du-jae (Ulsan Hyundai FC/KOR) 16.20
- Takehiro Tomiyasu (Bologna/JPN) 7.83
- Takefusa Kubo (Mallorca, Villareal CF/JPN) 6.71
- Abdulrahman Ghareeb (Al Ahli/KSA) 3.69
- Kaoru Mitoma (Kawasaki Frontale/JPN) 3.64
- Mohanad Ali (Portimonense, Al Sailiya/IRQ) 3.08
- Safawi Rasid (Johor Darul Ta’zim, Portimonense/MAS) 3.07
- Abdullah Al Hamdan (Al Shabab/KSA) 2.81
In a close-fought race, Ghayedi narrowly edged Abdi Qara, a breakout star for Tehran rivals and 2020 AFC Champions League finalists Persepolis, to claim the award.
Won Du-jae – who won the AFC U23 Championship in addition to the AFC Champions League in a sensational season – rounded out the top three, all of whom play for Asian-based clubs.
Two Japanese players, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Takefusa Kubo, rounded out the top five, while Kawasaki Frontale star Kaoru Mitoma made it three Japanese players in the top seven.
About Asia’s Choice – 2020 Fan Awards
The winners of each Asia’s Choice – 2020 Fan Awards category were supplied by hundreds of thousands of fan votes, as well as votes from an independent panel of experts comprising veteran journalists Michael Church and Wael Jabir and Matchday Asia pundit Rhysh Roshan Rai.
Fan votes were given a 60 per cent weighting, with the remaining 40 per cent contributed by the expert panel, culminating in a combined, points-based total for each shortlisted player.
The Asia’s Choice – 2020 Fan Awards are not intended to act as a replacement for the official AFC Annual Awards, but to serve as an opportunity for Asian football’s loyal fans to lend their voice to determining the continent’s best.