Kim Min-jae Named South Korea’s Top Male Footballer of 2023, Ending Son Heung-min’s Streak

Munich, Germany - In a notable shift in South Korean football, Bayern Munich's Kim Min-jae was declared the top male football player of South Korea for the year 2023. The announcement made on Tuesday marks Kim's first such accolade and brings an end to the four-year reign of Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min as the recipient of this honor.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Kim secured the Male Player of the Year award by gathering 137 points in a voting process involving football journalists, along with members of the KFA's technical development and national team committees. Son, who had previously won a record seven Player of the Year awards including four consecutively from 2019 to 2022, finished second this year with 113 points. Paris Saint-Germain's midfielder Lee Kang-in came in third, earning 84 points.

Kim, who was the runner-up to Son in 2021 and 2022, joined Bayern Munich following a successful year with Napoli in Italy. During his tenure at Napoli, Kim contributed significantly to the team's first Serie A championship in 33 years and was named the best defender in Italy's top league. This season, with Kim as a key defender, Bayern Munich stands second in the Bundesliga, trailing Bayer Leverkusen by four points but with a game in hand.

At 27 years old, Kim is the first defender to win the KFA's top male player award since Kim Young-gwon in 2015. In his remarks at the awards ceremony in Seoul, Kim expressed his gratitude and commitment to continued hard work, acknowledging the support of fans who cheered for him.

The KFA also announced the Female Player of the Year, with the honor going to 21-year-old winger Chun Garam. She edged out seven-time winner Ji So-yun by one point in a vote comprising WK League head coaches, members of the women's national team coaching staff, and female coaches registered with the KFA. Chun, who debuted internationally in November 2022, scored four goals in 11 matches in 2023, including a hat trick against Thailand in an Olympic qualification match. She played a pivotal role in Hwacheon KSPO WFC's second-place finish in the WK League's regular season.

Chun expressed her disbelief and gratitude upon receiving the award, acknowledging the support that contributed to her early career success. In addition to the player awards, the KFA recognized the year's top coaches. Kim Gi-dong of Pohang Steelers, who led his team to the FA Cup title and a second-place finish in K League 1, was named the Male Coach of the Year. Kim Eun-sook, who coached Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels WFC to their 11th consecutive WK League championship, received the Female Coach of the Year award.

Furthermore, Hwang Jae-won of Daegu FC and rising women's national team star Casey Yujin Phair were honored as the Male and Female Young Players of the Year.

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