Nguyen Quang Hai, a young, talented Vietnamese footballer, has added yet another feather to his cap as he was named winner of the 2018 Vietnam Golden Ball, the country’s most prestigious individual football award, on Saturday.
Hai, 21, surpassed his national teammates, Nguyen Anh Duc and Phan Van Duc, to take home the Golden Ball during the awards ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City.
Anh Duc won the Silver Ball, and Van Duc received the Bronze Ball.
The three all played at the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championship, which wrapped up with Vietnam lifting the trophy in Hanoi last week. Hai was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, whereas Anh Duc is Vietnam’s top scorer.
|Nguyen Quang Hai (center) receives the 2018 Vietnam Golden Ball in Ho Chi Minh City, December 22, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The Vietnam Golden Ball is likely the last big achievement Hai added to his belt in 2018, a stellar year for the rising star who plays for Hanoi FC at V-League 1, Vietnam’s top-flight football league.
The midfielder and forward and Hanoi FC won the 2018 V-League 1 with five rounds to spare. Hai himself was named the tournament’s Best Young Player.
In January, Hai and his teammates finished second at the AFC U23 Championship in China, before he was recruited to play for the Vietnamese ‘Olympic team,’ an U23 squad with three overage players, at the 2018 Asian Games (Asiad) in Indonesia.
The 21-year-old midfielder played an important role in Vietnam’s advancing into the semifinals with five straight victories and no single goal conceded at the Asiad, arguably the greatest performance of all time.
Vietnam finished fourth at the 2018 Asian Games, which marked a new milestone when the country was no longer seen as underdogs at continental playgrounds.
Nguyen Quang Hai was also named among the 24 nominees shortlisted for the sixth edition of the “Best Footballer in Asia 2018”, an award considered the Ballon d’Or of Asia, earlier this week.
He was bestowed the second-class Labor Order by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as the goverment leader visited the team on Friday.
|Striker Anh Duc receives the 2018 Vietnam Silver Ball in Ho Chi Minh City, December 22, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Doan Van Hau, Hai’s teammate at Hanoi FC, was named the Young Player of the Year. Hau played prominently in Vietnam’s triumph at the AFF Championship.
In the meantime, star striker Nguyen Cong Phuong was named the Fans’ Favorites Player of the Year, beating his U-23 teammates Luong Xuan Truong and Bui Tien Dung.
In the women’s category, the Golden Ball was given to Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung, while Huynh Nhu and Chuong Thi Kieu took home the Silver and Bronze Balls, respectively. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan was named the Young Player of the Year, in recognition of her efforts with Ho Chi Minh City FC.
|Female player Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung (center) receives the 2018 Vietnam Golden Ball in Ho Chi Minh City, December 22, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Hai, Van Duc and Van Hau will leave Ho Chi Minh City for Hanoi on Sunday morning to continue their training campaign with the national team, in preparation for an international friendly with North Korea on December 25 in Hanoi.
The match is a warmup for Vietnam’s next important campaign - the 2019 Asian Cup to take place in the United Arab Emirates in January.
The Vietnam Golden Ball award has been given annually by the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper since 1995 to recognize the efforts of players who have contributed to the popular sport in the country.