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Talent Radar

Asian Young Player of the Year 2017: Hee Chan Hwang

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward seven of the best young individuals across seven primary categories.

Under our Talent Radar banner, we have constantly strived to document and highlight the progress of the younger stars of the beautiful game, before they progress into household names.

The third edition of the Young Stars of the Year champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward seven of the best young individuals across seven primary categories.

Eligibility: 21 years old and below on January 1st, 2017

Hee Chan Hwang’s 2017

The loss of Jonathan Soriano hit not just heart-strings but nerves of the Red Bull Salzburg faithful; their talismanic striker off to China and a huge hole to fill. Thankfully, nerves were quickly put at ease with the rapid emergence of South Korea’s new prodigy Hee-Chan Hwang. From putting away French title-challengers Nice at the back end of 2016 to orchestrating the demolition of Austria’s top tier heavyweights Austria Vienna, 2017 has seen a new star continue his rise from Asia’s huge pool of talent.

Hwang announced himself on the European stage in November of 2016 with 2 match-winning strikes against Nice, but it is this year which the young South Korean has built on his experiences abroad to take a firm grip of the Austrian Bundesliga. After turning 21 during the 2016/17 winter break, Hwang scored on eight occasions taking his league tally to twelve – including two strikes and an assist in Salzburg’s 5-1 rout of title rivals Austria Vienna as the league favourites smashed their way to a 3rd successive title. Hwang’s season did not finish there though, the youngster scored an instinctive opener in The Bulls’ 2-1 cup final win vs Rapid Vienna, a trademark run was greeted with a pinpoint cross for the South Korean to slot home and set his side on their way to a fourth successive Austrian Cup title.

The new season has seen Hwang continue his development well. Up until a recent hamstring injury, keeping him out of Salzburg’s most recent fixtures, the South Korean has struck once in The Bull’s unsuccessful Champions League qualification bout against Rijeka, again in their triumphant Europa League qualification endeavour against Romanian side Viitorul and contributed three goals in six matches for the Red Bulls’ push for a fourth consecutive Austrian Bundesliga title. It is fair to say that whilst emotionally Soriano’s absence will leave a mark, the chasm left on the pitch is quickly being filled with the strikes of this young Asian talent.

Hwang’s positional awareness for a forward at such a young age is second-to-none, this, combined with his mercurial pace, makes the young man a very dangerous player for oppositions to try and tame. Although key elements of consistency in his game are still raw, as you’d expect for a developing player, his performances show mature qualities ingrained into his style. Bursting runs will be seen across the front line, making his movements and decision making unpredictable which choreographs nightmarish situations for opposition defences.

Hwang’s success at Salzburg is a testament to club’s promotion of youth; surrounding Hwang with young prodigies like himself who are given the responsibility and trust to push for a continual start in one of the country’s biggest teams has given the attacking talent the platform to propel his professional career. (written by Tom Canton)

Final Nominees

In alphabetical order:

  • Alex Gersbach (Australia & Rosenborg)
  • Eldor Shomurodov (Uzbekistan & Rostov / Bunyodkor)
  • Hee Chan Hwang (South Korea & RB Salzburg)
  • Sardar Azmoun (Iran & Rubin Kazan / Rostov)
  • Yosuke Ideguchi (Japan & Gamba Osaka)

What do the Experts say?

Here’s what Ryan Walters of K-League United told Outside of the Boot:

“At just 21 years old, Hwang Heechan is already showing flashes that he may be the striker the Korean National Team desperately needs after limping into Russia 2018. Averaging a goal every 150 minutes in his first full season with Red Bull Salzburg last year proved he can finish at a high level and showcased his clinical understanding of the game. What his goals may lack in flair, they more than make up for with tremendous positioning and cagey off the ball movement in the build up. However, even with such a favorable goal return, where Hwang is perhaps most enjoyable to watch is with the ball at his feet dribbling directly at defenders with bonafide tenacity. His deft touch, refusal to give up, and vision will continue to help set up his Salzburg and Korean teammates for years to come.”

Talent Radar Accolades

Asian Young Player of the Year History

YearPlayerAgeNationalityClub (at the time)Current Club
2017Hee Chan Hwang21South KoreaRB SalzburgRB Salzburg
2016Sardar Azmoun21IranRostovRubin Kazan
2015Dhurgham Ismail21IraqÇaykur RizesporÇaykur Rizespor

Young Stars of the Year – 2017 / 2016 / 2015

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