DILI (25 Nov 2011) – Asian football’s highest individual accolade – the Diamond of Asia – has been awarded to former AFC President and the Sultan of Pahang, His Majesty Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Ibni Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al Muadzam Shah.
HM Sultan Ahmad Shah led the Asian Football Confederation from 1994 to 2002, during which time he played an influential role in Asia’s first-ever hosting of the FIFA World Cup, and becomes the second Malaysian to join the exclusive club of Diamond of Asia recipients after the honour was bestowed upon Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak at least year’s AFC Annual Awards ceremony.
“I served as the AFC President for eight years and it was an unforgettable experience. I am very touched, delighted and greatly honoured to receive this distinction today in front of all my friends in football,” said HM Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is also the President of the Asean Football Federation (AFF).
“I dedicated my life to football and the Diamond of Asia has special significance for me. It is with great respect and pride I accept this award.
“Let me take this opportunity to also thank the AFC Executive Committee and commend them for the good work they are doing.
“The Future is Asia and we should not rest until we have realised this dream.”
HM Sultan Ahmad Shah is the seventh recipient of the elite accolade after Saburo Kawabuchi (2005), Joseph S Blatter (2006), Lennart Johannson (2007), Ken Naganuma (posthumously; 2008), General Farouk Bouzo (2009) and Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Diamond of Asia may be conferred for a single contribution of great importance or for ongoing contributions throughout a number of years and is a way for the AFC to acknowledge the recipient’s sterling services. The award is given annually and always to one person – selected by the AFC Executive Committee – each year.
The recipient of this accolade enjoys a distinguished position within AFC, and is entitled to special privileges, including invitations to all AFC competitions and to all AFC official functions and events. Furthermore, the recipient ranks only after the AFC Executive Committee in terms of importance within the AFC’s protocol and hierarchy.
Following is the list of the award winners:
AFC Diamond of Asia: His Majesty Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah
AFC Player of the Year: Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan)
AFC Women Player of the Year: Aya Miyama (Japan)
AFC Youth Player of the Year (Men): Hideki Ishige (Japan)
AFC Youth Player of the Year (Women): Caitlin Foord (Australia)
AFC National Team of the Year (Men): Japan
AFC National Team of the Year (Women): Japan
AFC Dream Asia Award: Reach Out To Asia (Qatar)
AFC Club of the Year: Al Sadd (Qatar)
AFC Referee of the Year (Men): Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
AFC Referee of the Year (Women): Sachiko Yamagishi (Japan)
AFC Assistant Referee of the Year (Men): Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (Uzbekistan)
AFC Assistant Referee of the Year (Women): Sarah Ho (Australia)
AFC Coach of the Year (Men): Norio Sasaki (Japan)
AFC Coach of the Year (Women): Tezuka Takako (Japan)
AFC Futsal Player of the Year: Mohammad Keshavarz (Iran)
AFC Futsal Team of the Year: Nagoya Oceans (Japan)
AFC Fair Play Association of the Year: Korea Republic
AFC Member Association of the Year: Japan
Photo caption: Sultan of Pahang, His Majesty Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Ibni Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al Muadzam Shah (C), FIFA President Dato’ Sri Joseph S. Blatter (R) and AFC Acting President Zhang Jilong pose after AFC Diamond of Asia award presentation.