Son Heung-Min Becomes the First Asian to Be Nominated for a Ballon d’Or in 12 Years

South Korean soccer star Son Heung-min has been nominated for the prestigious Ballon d’Or for 2019, the first for an Asian player in 12 years.

Presented by France Football magazine, the award recognizes the world’s best soccer players every year, with prominent names such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leading its roster of winners since 1956.

Son, whose nomination was announced on Monday, currently plays forward for the Tottenham Hotspur and captains the Korea Republic national football team.

The 27-year-old is the only Asian player on the list of 30 nominees, which includes Messi (Barcelona), Ronaldo (Juventus), Virgil van Dij (Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) and Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona), to name a few.

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Mood✌🏻💙#COYS

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Son is only the fourth Asian player to ever be included on the list, according to FOX Sports Asia.

On Tuesday, he netted two goals in Tottenham’s 5-0 victory against Red Star Belgrade in their Group B match of the UEFA Champions League, the Korea Herald noted.

Those goals in the 16th and the 44th minute were the respective 120th and 121st of Son’s European career, putting him on par with former Bundesliga star Cha Bum-kun to become the top-scoring Korean footballers in Europe.

Son’s scores lifted Tottenham Hotspur to their first UEFA Champions League final this year, ranking second behind Germany’s Bayern Munich.

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💙 @hm_son7’s message to the fans 🙌 #COYS #THFC

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Son is the third South Korean to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or after former Anderlecht forward Seol Ki-hyeon (2002) and ex-Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung (2005).

Fans cheered on Son’s nomination:

The Ballon d’Or awards ceremony will be held in Paris on Dec. 2.

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