YOKOHAMA – Attacking midfielder Leandro Domingues, one of the driving forces behind Kashiwa Reysol’s historic championship triumph, was named J. League Player of the Year on Monday.
The 28-year-old Brazilian averaged a goal every other game as Kashiwa became the first team to win the title a year after coming up as second division champions.
A first-time winner of the award, he was chosen from 29 nominees voted for by the managers and players of the 18 clubs in the J. League’s top flight.
Leandro, who also played a pivotal role in Kashiwa’s promotion-winning 2010 campaign, this year made 30 league appearances in a fairy tale season for the Chiba club, scoring 15 goals.
“I want to thank God, and my wife and son who are always by my side through thick and thin,” said Leandro, the 11th Brazilian-born player to win the award and first since former Kashima Antlers striker Marquinhos in 2009.
“I want to thank all the Kashiwa Reysol staff for helping make this happen.”
Kashiwa’s 61-year-old Brazilian boss Nelsinho was named Manager of the Year.
“This is a wonderful night,” said Nelsinho. “When I became manager of this club two years ago, the first thing I had to do was talk to the players and instill a winning mentality.
“It is easy to talk about winning but very difficult to actually do, but the players have been switched on and always fully prepared and that has been the key to winning the title for our club for the first time.”
Leandro Domingues was joined by three Kashiwa teammates in the Best XI: defenders Hiroki Sakai, voted Best Young Player, Naoya Kondo and midfielder Jorge Wagner.