Jose Morais, who guided Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to their third consecutive K League 1 championship, was named the top head coach in South Korean professional football on Monday.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors head coach Jose Morais speaks after receiving the K League 1 Coach of the Year award at the K League Awards ceremony in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Morais received the Coach of the Year award at the annual K League Awards ceremony in Seoul, about 24 hours after Jeonbuk clinched their record-tying seventh title.
Morais won 32.67 points, converted from votes cast by media, fellow head coaches and club captains. Pohang Steelers' Kim Gi-dong was the runner-up with 29.78 points.
Jeonbuk entered Sunday's season finale against Gangwon FC in second place, trailing Ulsan Hyundai FC by 79-76 in points. Jeonbuk needed a combination of their victory and an Ulsan loss to Pohang Steelers to come out on top. Jeonbuk did their part by beating Gangwon 1-0, and Ulsan fell to Pohang 4-1.
Jeonbuk and Ulsan both finished with 79 points but Jeonbuk held the edge in the first tiebreaker, goals scored, by 72-71.
Jeonbuk became just the second team, after Seongnam FC, to pull off a "three-peat," and also tied Seongnam for most titles in league history at seven.
"This is a huge honor, and I couldn't have won this award alone," Morais said. "This was a total team effort, from members of our front office and down to our coaches and players. I'd like to thank our players in particular, because I think their talent and hard work helped me win this trophy."
Morais said he was challenged and pushed by other great coaches in the K League 1, saying the 11 others all deserved to win the top coaching prize.
"I received a vote from five coaches, and I am really grateful for that," he said. "I'll keep working even harder from now on."
This was the first K League season for Morais, a Portuguese native who took over from Choi Kang-hee after serving as an assistant to Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea.