The 23-year-old’s selection has much to do with Ono’s part in winning the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord in 2002, to become only the second Asian born footballer to lift a European prize. Bum-kun Cha was the first in 1980 (with Eintracht Frankfurt) and 1988 (with Bayer Leverkusen).
PSV coach Guus Hiddink was also honoured as Coach of the year, after guiding South Korea to the semi-final of the World Cup 2002. South Korea were given Team of the Year.
AFC Player of the Year Awards 2002
AFC Player of the Year: Shinji Ono (Japan and Feyenoord)
AFC Young Player of the Year: Chun-soo Lee
(South Korea and Ulsan Hyundai)
AFC Coach of the Year: Guus Hiddink (South Korea)
AFC National Team of the Year: South Korea
AFC Club Team of the Year: Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan)
AFC Futsal Team of the Year: Iran
AFC Referee of the Year: Toru Kamikawa (Japan)
AFC Assistant Referee of the Year: Ali Al Traifi (Saudi Arabia)
AFC Fair Play Award: South Korea.