Newly crowned 2019 AFC women's player of the year Saki Kumagai is likely to require a trophy cabinet-extension if she continues to revolutionise Asian women's football in the way she has. The 29-year-old defender is a Fifa World Cup winner, Asian Cup champion and Olympic silver medallist with Japan; four-time Uefa Champions League winner and six-time league champion with Olympique Lyonnais; and was nominated for this year's BBC women's footballer of the year award – losing out to Lyon roommate and Champions League record goalscorer Ada Hegerberg. Then aged just 20, Kumagai was picked to take Japan's decisive penalty in the 2011 World Cup final penalty shootout against world number one the US. She scored, helping Japan to a historic win. Japan were runners up at the 2015 World Cup, demonstrating to the rest of the world that it was certainly no fluke. Side note: Kumagai also scored Lyon's winning penalty at the 2016 Champions League final. The Sapporo native has since earned 108 national caps and led a youthful Nadeshiko Japan during the 2019 World Cup in France. As one of only four players in coach Asako Takakura's squad with over a century of caps, the pressure was on to command her fresh-faced peers at the sport's biggest tournament. Captain Kumagai was seen crying uncontrollably after Japan were knocked out in the round of 16, and her Dutch opponents rushed to console her post-match. View this post on Instagram Thanks Shan️ I am so grateful to the football that made me meet such wonderful friends⚽️ ━･･━･･━･･━･･━･･━･･━ #Repost @svandesanden ━･･━･･━･･━･･━･･━･･━ One of the nicest person I have ever met. A real professional. Nobody knows all the hard work you did before and after every training session. But I do. I’m proud of you. You can be proud of your team and yourself @kumagai1017 ️ A post shared by Saki Kumagai (@kumagai1017) on Jun 27, 2019 at 4:37am PDT “It's quite difficult to compare the last three World Cups – the one we won, the runners-up and the last one. The last one, we had a very young team with inexperienced players. It cost us as a team, but gaining the experience we had will make us a better team over the next few years,” Kumagai said after receiving her AFC player of the year award in Hong Kong on Monday. Since joining French champions Lyon from Frankfurt in 2013, Kumagai has become a leading Asian player in both the men's and women's categories. Her nerves of steel in the game's big moments as well as her calm demeanour off-the-ball helped steer Lyon to unprecedented regional and continental dominance. “I feel very proud to win these trophies … The playing style is very different between [Japan and Lyon]. I try to play in Lyon with the experience that I have from the Japan team and vice versa,” Kumagai said. “I also try to give my experience to the young players in Japan and adjust accordingly. “It's quite difficult to compare individual trophies to team ones, but I think both are the result of my team's performance.” And with such performances come young and hungry admirers. This year's AFC Asian Cup saw a record 24 nations participate, while the organisation boasts annual increases in its women's football member associations across all age groups. After a successful pilot in November, the AFC women's club championship is to be introduced next year. If this year's men's edition is anything to go by, Asian fans will be treated to elite-level football – a level that Spanish maestro and Qatari side Al Sadd’s coach Xavi Hernandez insists is not far from European standards. “I heard that AFC and Fifa established a new competition. I think that's really good for women's football in Japan and Asia – we should continue to have these sort of games,” Kumagai said. “The level of women's football in Asia has been growing since I made my debut. You can see it especially in the youth tournaments – you always see Asian teams make it to the last four.” View this post on Instagram A post shared by Saki Kumagai (@kumagai1017) on Jun 2, 2019 at 1:55am PDT There are five AFC nations in the top 20 of the Fifa world rankings – Australia, North Korea, Japan, China and South Korea – with several more working their way down from the top 100. While there is certainly room for work to be done, the new generation has been provided opportunities the likes of Kumagai had to hustle for. So having seen women's football transform before her very feet, Kumagai must now take advantage with her unparalleled experience as she enters the peak years of an outfield footballer's career. Argentine magician Lionel Messi scooped his sixth Ballon d'Or on the weekend, while US star Megan Rapinoe earned her first Ballon d'Or Feminin. Does she dare to dream? “Winning the Ballon d'Or is nothing easy but if I can keep performing for my team, I think there's a possibility for that in the future,” Kumagai said.