Nguyen Van Quyet holds his Golden Ball award at the ceremony on Tuesday in HCM City. — Photo tuoitrethudo.com.vn

On the stage, the 19-year-old said the silverware would motivate him to seek success in his career and the Golden Ball.

Ten years later, Quyet has become the nation's top player of 2020 and won the Golden Ball after a couple of near-misses.

“It is a special day today for me. Ten years ago I was the best young player. Today marks my 10th year playing professional football and also 10th year since my first time playing for the national team,” said Quyet.

“I have been waiting for years to have the chance to take this honour for the first time. It is amazing. And this will be my career’s turning point.”

The captain of Hanoi FC has shone in a year that football was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When most football leagues had to be suspended, Vietnam’s national competitions came to an end successfully. Players had opportunities to strut their stuff while supporters were allowed to cheer them on in person.

In that setting, Quyet helped his club defend their National Cup title, finish second in the V.League 1 and grab their fourth Super Cup trophy.

“I played in all competitions with the club and scored as many as I could. Besides my own efforts, I also received strong support from my teammates who also worked really hard to contribute to our team’s result. They are part of my success,” said Quyet. 

Great loser

Over the last 10 years, hard-working Quyet has become a key part of Hanoi's success and has also starred in the national team.

Under his belt are five V.League 1 titles, two National Cups, four Super Cups and an AFF Cup triumph with the national team.

However, the Golden Ball eluded him despite his best efforts.

Previously, his best result was twice placing second with Silver Balls in 2014 and 2015.

In other years, he couldn't even make the shortlist despite performing well.

In 2016 and 2017, his outstanding performances made it seem like it was his time, but pushing referee Hoang Pham Cong Khanh and elbowing Nghiem Xuan Tu of Quang Ninh meant he didn't even make the top three.

The year 2019 was amazing for Quyet as he scored 21 goals and assisted 10. Under his captaincy, Hanoi made history as the first Vietnamese club to advance to the AFC Cup’s Inter-zone final. He was a top candidate for title. But a tackle against Song Lam Nghe An’s defender Nguyen Dinh Dong late in the season resulted in a red card and destroyed his chances.

He was also absent from national team coach Park Hang-seo’s team after the AFF Cup victory as the South Korean said he didn't suit his tactics.

The opportunity to represent his country seemed lost.

However, Quyet has never stopped doing his best and responds to each setback with more hard work on and off the field.

While 2020 was tough for most people around the world, Quyet shone in a year when the Golden Ball selectors had no national team matches to base their decisions on, only local tournaments.

He played all 20 matches for Hanoi and scored five goals but perhaps more impressively, was involved in 20 out of the team's 37 goals.

He was voted the best player of Hanoi, named the best player of the V.League 1 season and in the best XI by the national football organising board.

With the Golden Ball now in his collection, he has won every local individual title available.

“It is a great mark in my career because I have been recognised in all levels – man of a match, the best player of the club, the best player of the V.League and now the best player of the season,” said Quyet.

“To me, the Golden Ball is not also a dream but a responsibility. It will remind me to be responsible in football and the belief that many people have in me. I will prove that I am worthy of the votes they gave me.

“I will have to work harder and harder for better results for Hanoi in 2021 and the national team if I have a chance to play,” said Quyet, who seems to have won Park’s trust again.

He was called up to the national team last month and scored a goal against the U22s in their friendly match.

“I hope that COVID-19 will be over and we can play football normally. I hope to see stadiums full of supporters. I also want to contribute better for Hanoi and grab our top position back this season. And I hope to play for the national team too.” VNS

Thanh Ha

Winners of 2020 Golden Ball award announced

Winners of 2020 Golden Ball award announced

Forward and captain Nguyen Van Quyet of Hanoi FC and striker Cu Thi Huynh Nhu of HCM City Club won the Golden Ball awards for player of the year during an awards ceremony held in HCM City on January 12.