Japan national team star Yasuhito Endo was named the J-League’s Most Valuable Player and inducted into the season’s Best XI on Tuesday night, during the league’s annual award ceremony. The lavish event took place at Yokohama Arena, within walking distance from Yokohama F. Marinos’ home ground of Nissan Stadium.
34-year-old Endo has been named in every J-League Best XI since the 2003 season, save for 2013 when his team played in the second division. The Samurai Blue midfielder earned this year’s distinction after playing all but seven minutes for Gamba, who overcame Urawa Reds in the final three rounds to claim their second league title.
The honours cap off a historical year for Endo, in which he led his Gamba Osaka teammates to two domestic titles and could lead the club to a treble on Saturday, when they play in the Emperor’s Cup Final against newly-promoted Montedio Yamagata.
Endo was joined in the Best XI by fellow Gamba players Takashi Usami and Patric, the striker pair who combined for 19 of Gamba’s 59 goals this season.
Ninth-place FC Tokyo matched the champions with three selections, including defenders Kosuke Ota and Masato Morishige and Japan starlet Yoshinori Muto.
Golden Boot winner and Kawasaki Frontale striker Yoshito Okubo, Albirex Niigata midfielder Leo Silva, Kashima Antlers midfielder Gaku Shibasaki and Sanfrecce Hiroshima defender Tsukasa Shiotani were also named in the Best XI. Urawa and Japan goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa rounded out the list.
Antlers striker Caio, who has expressed interest in obtaining Japanese citizenship in order to play for the country’s national team after having played in Japan since his high school years, was named Best Young Player.
Meanwhile, Antlers midfielder Daigo Nishi’s August 2 volley against Sanfrecce earned the Goal of the Year award.
2014 J-League Best XI:
GK Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
DF Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo)
DF Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)
DF Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
MF Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)
MF Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)
MF Leo Silva (Albirex Niigata)
MF Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka) *MVP
FW Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale)
FW Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka)
FW Patric (Gamba Osaka)