Top award a bonus as Huang revels in 'second life'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 11:03am

Kitchee midfielder Huang Yang won the Footballer of the Year Award, beating favourites Lee Chi-ho and Chan Wai-ho of league champions South China.

Despite his short spell in Hong Kong, the highly rated former mainlander has already established his position at club level since joining Kitchee in 2011 as well as a solid role in international soccer.

Since being called up by former Hong Kong coach Ernie Merrick against Taiwan in an international friendly in February 2012, Huang, who captained China at the 2005 World University Games before moving to the city, has already made 12 appearances for Hong Kong at international level.

He has been a major force behind the success of Kitchee in capturing the FA Cup and reaching the AFC Cup quarter-finals.

"Actually, at one time I quit the game, but thanks to the opportunity in Hong Kong I had a second chance to restart my career," said Huang, who left Shanghai in 2008 to study at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and was recruited by Kitchee after finishing his degree in logistics.

"Winning the award is something totally out of my expectations. When I first started at Kitchee, I only wanted to find a regular place in the team and in the second season I started thinking of helping the club win some silverware. This award has really come out of the blue."

Despite his age, the 29-year-old said he wanted to continue playing for as long as possible. "I can't live without soccer and now I want to help my club to do well in the AFC Cup and help Hong Kong qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup."

Chan Wai-ho, who won the "favourite" award decided by public voting, had no complaints after losing out to his international teammate for the top prize.

"He deserves it," said the centre-half. "Huang is always reliable in midfield and I have no hard feelings losing to him.

"The competition has been especially keen this year so I am delighted that at least the fans recognised my efforts by voting for me in the 'favourite' category."

Lee, meanwhile, strongly hinted he would leave South China for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan. The 30-year-old has spent 12 years with the Caroliners.

Goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai has also been approached by a Chinese Super League club, with Guizhou Renhe offering him a four-year contract.