Saudi Arabian goal-machine Yasser al-Qahtani was Wednesday named Asian player of the year while Iraq was voted Asian team of the year at a glittering awards ceremony in Sydney.
Al-Qahtani, nicknamed "The Sniper", gained some consolation for his team's shock loss in the Asian Cup final against Iraq, which scooped the Asian Football Confederation team of the year award.
The 25-year-old Saudi striker received the award at a gala dinner in Sydney after being chosen ahead of Iraqi pair Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram, who had made up the shortlist of the final three nominees.
Al Qahtani, who has been linked with a move to Premier League side Middlesbrough, hoped winning the award would boost his chances of getting a contract in Europe.
"It's a dream of any player to play in any of the European leagues. I would prefer England or Spain," he told reporters. "I think that this award will help my chances of getting to Europe."
Al Qahtani became the fourth Saudi Arabian to win the award, which has been given out annually since 1994, joining Saeed Owiran (1994), Nawaf Al Temyat (2000) and Hamad Al-Montashari (2005).
Many of Asia's best-known players were ineligible to win the award after the AFC introduced a rule in 2005 insisting players had to be present at the ceremony to be considered, effectively ruling out any European-based players.
Iraq's Mahmoud had been the popular choice to win the award after scoring the winning goal in the Asian Cup final and being named player of the tournament, but Al Qahtani scooped the honor due to his performances in all competitions during the year.
The Saudis had gone into the Asian Cup final in Jakarta as overwhelming favorites to win their fourth title but were upset by an Iraqi team in one of sport's great fairytales.
The Iraqis defied incredible odds and a haphazard preparation brought about by the war and sectarian violence at home to reach the final.
Former UEFA president Lennart Johansson received a special "Diamond of Asia" award for his services to Asian football. The Swede, 78, was UEFA head for 17 years until he was ousted by French legend Michel Platini in January this year.
Ubzkekistan's Rauf Inileev won coach of the year.