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History of the K League 1 Top Scorer Award

league 2023.11.05   I   hits 580

The 'golden boot,' 'goal king', or simply the top goalscorer award. The winner of the 2023 K League 1 top goal scorer award appears to be between two frontrunners, Tiago Orobó and Joo Min-kyu. But before a winner is declared, let's have a look back at some of the past winners.

The K League 1 top scorer award is given to the player who scores the most goals in a given season. If two players finish on the same number of goals then a winner is declared based on goals per game. In 2022, for example, Joo Min-kyu and Cho Gue-sung both scored 17 but because the latter had played fewer games than the former, the now FC Midtjylland striker won the award. Something similar happened in 2013 when Dejan Damjanović and Kim Shin-wook both finished on 19 goals.

This year, the race for the 'golden boot' looks set to go right down to the wire with there being just one goal between Tiago Orobó of Daejeon Hana Citizen and Ulsan Hyundai's Joo Min-kyu. With three games to go, it's anyone's guess who will come out on top.

[READ: What's left to play for in Final A?]


Record holders


The most goals scored in a single K League 1 season is 31 with FC Seoul striker Dejan Damjanović winning the top scorer award that year. Dejan made 42 appearances for a goals-per-game ratio of 0.74. Behind Dejan is Kim Do-hoon with 28 from 40 appearances in 2003 while with Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. In the current, 38-game season format, the record is 26, achieved by both Marcão of Gyeongnam FC in 2018 and Júnior Negrão of Ulsan Hyundai in 2020. Marcão made 31 appearances that season to record a goals-per-game ratio of 0.84. Júnior Negrão played 27 for a goals-per-game ratio of 0.96 which is the record.

Multiple wins


Only four players have won the award on more than one occasion and only one has done so for more than one club, that being Kim Do-hoon who won it with Jeonbuk in 2000 and Seongnam in 2003. Lee Kee-keun (POSCO Atoms, 1998, 1991), Yoon Sang-chul (Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso, 1990, 1994), and Dejan (FC Seoul, 2011-2013) are the other members of this exclusive club. Dejan is the only player to win the award three times and in consecutive seasons.


Clubs represented


The top scorer award has been won by players representing 13 clubs in total. FC Seoul are the most represented with seven wins, followed by Ulsan with six, and Pohang and Suwon Bluewings with five. Pohang and FC Seoul are the only teams to have a player win it three years in a row - (Choi Sang-kook in 1987, Lee Kee-keun in 1988, Cho Keung-yeon in 1989) and Dejan (2011-2013).

In 2022, the award was shared between two teams in a sense because Cho Gue-sung had played and scored for both Gimcheon Sangmu and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors en route to scoring 17 and finishing as top scorer.

Nationalities represented


From 1983 until 2022 there have been 40 winners of the top goalscorer award. On 24 occasions the award has gone to a domestic player, nine Brazilians have won the award, one Thai (Piyapong Pue-on, Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso, 1985), one player from Serbia (Saša Drakulić, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, 1999), one from Montenegro (Dejan Damjanović, FC Seoul, 2011-2013), one from Portugal (Edmilson, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, 2002), and one from Australia (Adam Taggart, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, 2019). The last two awards were won by Korean players, Joo Min-kyu and Cho Gue-sung.