The J.League on Wednesday announced Gamba Osaka midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi as the winner of the 2016 YBC Levain Cup New Hero Award.
The Rio Olympian was praised by media for his performance in the Knockout Stage, receiving the most votes from journalists covering the tournament.
In addition to creating the away goal that sent Gamba to the final by forcing a key turnover against Yokohama F. Marinos, Ideguchi’s steady play in central midfield has been crucial in allowing captain Yasuhito Endo to take a more active role in the attack, an important factor in Gamba’s progression in the tournament.
“I never thought I could win the New Hero Award so to be honest I’m just incredibly happy,” Ideguchi said.
“I’m still having trouble accepting that my name will be alongside so many great players who have previously won, and I want to continue to improve as a player.
“In appearing from the knockout stage we knew that a loss would mean the end of our tournament, but captain [Yasuhito] Endo and the rest of my team-mates brought a sense of stability and created an environment that allowed a stress-free approach to each match.
“I’m looking forward to the Final and hope to make my presence felt on the pitch.”
In addition to the five million yen (~$5000) prize, Ideguchi will receive a one-year supply of products from tournament sponsors Yamazaki Biscuit Co Ltd.
The sold-out Levain Cup Final will take place on October 15 between Urawa Reds and Gamba Osaka at Saitama Stadium.