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LEAD) Captain for title-winng team voted K League 1 MVP

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SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) -- Lee Chung-yong, captain of the K League 1 title-winning Ulsan Hyundai FC, was voted the most valuable player of the top South Korean football league on Monday.

Lee earned the top individual honor in the K League 1 in a landslide over three candidates, earning recognition for leading Ulsan to their first championship since 2005.

Head coaches (30 percent), captains (30 percent) and members of the media (40 percent) voted on the MVP award. Lee received 59 votes from the media, and six each from captains and head coaches, and his vote total was converted to 50.34 points. Pohang Steelers midfielder Sin Jin-ho was a distant second with 19.40 points, followed by Gangwon FC forward Kim Dae-won with 15.86 points and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defender Kim Jin-su with 14.40 points.

Lee, 34, is the fifth Ulsan player to win MVP and first since Kim Bo-kyung in 2019. He is also the fourth-oldest MVP in K League history.

Lee started his professional career with another K League team, FC Seoul, and embarked on a European career in 2009 by signing with Bolton Wanderers. He returned to his native land in March 2020, signing what Ulsan claimed was the largest contract in club history at the time.

Lee didnt have gaudy offensive numbers this year, tallying only three goals and two assists in 35 matches, but his teammates, coaches and peers across the league have hailed Lees leadership as a key ingredient behind Ulsans title this year.

The Lee Chung-yong for MVP narrative began immediately after Ulsan locked down their title with a 2-1 victory over Gangwon FC on Oct. 16. Head coach Hong Myung-bo and a few Ulsan players, some of them unprompted, said Lee deserved to be the league MVP for what he meant to the best team in the competition.

The soft-spoken and reserved Lee previously said while he appreciated the support, he felt uncomfortable with the growing attention.

But Lee found himself under the brightest spotlight in the annual K League Awards ceremony Monday. Lee was also named to the K League 1 Best XI.

True to form, Lee said, as he accepted the MVP trophy, that he felt other candidates were more deserving of the award.

I will humbly accept this award as a message that I should continue to work for the betterment of Korean football, Lee said. I will try to be a good player on the field and a good person off the field,

Reflecting on Ulsans championship season, Lee said, We went through some adversity early on to reach the top. We never gave up along the way, and I hope weve inspired other people to overcome challenges.

Hong won the Coach of the Year award after leading Ulsan to the top in his second season on the bench. Hong becomes the third person in K League history to win an MVP award as a player and then the top coaching prize, joining Choi Kang-hee and Choi Yong-soo.

Hong is the first Ulsan head coach to be so honored since 1996.

Under Hongs tutelage, Ulsan scored the most goals in the K League 1 with 57 and also conceded the fewest goals with 33.

Its all thanks to the great players I have that Ive been honored with this award, Hong said. It took us 17 years to win the league title, and I will make sure it doesnt go to another team next year.

Gangwon FCs Yang Hyun-jun grabbed the Young Player of the Year award, given to the best player 23 or younger with under three years of K League experience who played in at least 50 percent of the teams matches.

Yang led all candidates with eight goals this season and earned a record four Young Player of the Month awards during the season.

He garnered 86.55 points for the easy win. Yang received 11 out of 12 votes from team captains, nine out of 12 votes from head coaches and 106 out of 116 votes cast by media.

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