AFC – KUALA LUMPUR, The 2013 AFC Player of the Year award nominee Javad Nekounam has declared that being nominated amongst the three players is like winning the award itself.
The Esteghlal midfielder is contesting alongside Korea Republic and FC Seoul midfielder Ha Dae-sung and AFC Champions League 2013 winner Zheng Zhi.
Speaking in a press conference on the eve of the Awards, the former Osasuna player said that the award is an opportunity to pay back his teammates, technical staff of the club and his national team as well as club coaches and fans.
“I believe in the team and this one is for the team,” he said.
“It does not matter whether I win tomorrow or not as all the nominees are deserved winners and it’s going to be very tough but I am already a winner over my fans, my teammates and technical staff as well as coaches.
“The year 2013 was very difficult year but to come up laurels made it memorable. Having been through to the World Cup with difficult beginning, reaching last four with Esteghlal in the ACL and winning domestic title with Esteghlal were great moments.
The 33-year old scored three goals in the ACL 2013 but missed out in the home tie against FC Seoul in the semi-final due to suspension which they lost 4-2 on aggregate.
“It was (ACL 2013) exciting but ended in a sour note as we failed to progress in the final. But we a young team with great potentials. We can go all the way and claim the title next year.
“At the moment, the focus is on continuing playing good and helping my club and the Team Melli. Wearing that armband always spur you and make you more responsible. We are through to the World Cup and playing in that global showpiece is the dream of any footballer, so whether I will win or not (the award), the inspirations will be there to continue my job,” said the Iran and Esteghlal captain.