Banned spitter named AFC Player of the Year

Fiery Al Hilal forward Nassir Al Shamrani has taken out the AFC Player of the Year award at a gala event in Manilla on Sunday night, despite reportedly being banned for eight matches after spitting at Western Sydney defender Matthew Spiranovic.

According to Arabian media reports, Hamid Al Shaibani, deputy chairman of the Asian Football Confederation’s disciplinary committee, revealed the ban to an Arabian news network, despite the AFC trying to keep a lid on the news ahead of the awards dinner.

Al Shamrani received a minimum six-match ban for spitting at Spiranovic in a fiery aftermath to Western Sydney’s victory over Al Hilal in the two-legged Asian Champions League final last month.

He also received the minimum two-match suspension for headbutting the defender during the second clash in Riyadh.

The ban only applies to Asian Champions League matches, however, leaving Al Shamrani free to play in the Asian Cup – where he’s sure to receive a warm welcome on Australian shores – and in the Arabic domestic competition.

When asked about the incident ahead of the awards dinner, Al Shamrani was unrepentant for spitting at Spiranovic, describing it as a "normal reaction" to being provoked after the game.

Despite the ban, Al Shamrani was still recognised for his 10 Champions League goals by being named the AFC Player of the Year.

"While winning this award does not lessen the sadness I feel after losing the final of the AFC Champions League – as I wanted to claim both this and the AFC Champions League title for Al Hilal – I am still very proud to win this trophy, I thank God for it, and thank everyone at Al Hilal Club,” Al Shamrani told the AFC website.

“When you are nominated with two other great players like Khalfan and Ismail who are competing with you for the prize, there were times when I was thinking I may or may not win, as they are very good players challenging with me. After a long journey coming here from Saudi Arabia, waiting for the day and the minute to come, I am very, very happy that I got it.

"But really the award is recognition of the whole of Al Hilal. It’s an award that I have been given as a result of teamwork of the whole Al Hilal team, the managers and all the players. I say to them it is not just me winning this prize but it’s for all of us. They are the ones who put me in this position to win this prize.”