The annual award is hosted by Fox Sports and China’s Titan Sports, with Nguyen Quang Hai among 24 fellow contenders.
Hai, shortlisted once before, and Thai defender Theerathon Bunmathan are Southeast Asia’s only representatives.
Son Heung-min, who plays for English club Tottenham Hotspurs, scooped the awards in 2017 and 2018.
The list includes famous footballers from Europe and South America, including Brazil’s José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior (Paulinho), midfielder at Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, Italy’s Sebastian Giovinco and Frenchman Bafetimbi Gomis, both signed to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
Hai, 22, a cornerstone of Hanoi FC and Vietnam’s national team, rose to stardom by helping Vietnam palm silver at the AFC U23 Championship 2018, raising the country’s footballing profile.
The midfielder was part of the team that finished fourth at Asian Games and the national squad that won the 2018 AFF Cup, commencing to the Asian Cup 2019 quarterfinals. He was named AFF Cup best player and Asian Cup best goal scorer.
Hai was the first Vietnamese player named among the 500 most important players on the globe by World Soccer, an English football magazine.
He has participated in all major football tournaments this year, including AFC Champions League’s qualifiers, AFC Cup, V-League, World Cup 2022 qualifiers and SEA Games, playing a total 50 games.
Unlike Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Footballer of the Year, judged by its technical department and match commissioners, Best Asian Footballer, founded by Titan Sports, the only Chinese media representative to vote in France’s Ballon d’Or, applies a similar organizational structure and rules as in the latter event.
The award, entering its 7th edition, is judged by nearly 50 Asian sports journalists.
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