FPAI Awards 2018: Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri named Indian Player of the Year
What's the story?
Indian national football team and Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri was named as the Indian Player of the Year in the Football Players' Association of India (FPAI) award ceremony held in Kolkata on Tuesday.
This was the second time that Chhetri has been named as the Indian Player of the Year.
In case you didn't know...
The FPAI is an association for Indian footballers which was instituted in 2006 by Bhaichung Bhutia, India national football team's then captain. The association aims to "look after the welfare of players and educate and advise them by engaging professionals."
Chosen by a vote amongst the members of the players' trade union, the FPAI Indian Player of the Year is an award given annually to an Indian player who is adjudged to have been the best of the year in Indian football.
Chhetri was the first recipient of the award back in 2010 back when he was playing for Goa. Since then, Mohammed Rafi, Mehtab Hussain, Syed Rahim Nabi, Lenny Rodrigues, Balwant Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Anas Edathodika have gone on to win the award.
The heart of the matter
Chhetri enjoyed an incredible season with Bengaluru FC as well as with the national team. He led his club to the final of the Indian Super League (ISL) in their debut season. The skipper scored 14 goals in 21 matches and finished as the third highest goal scorer in the league.
Tthe 33-year-old forward also helped Bengaluru lift the inaugural edition of the Indian Super Cup, a tournament in which he scored six goals, including a superb brace in the final.
Most recently, the Indian football team, led by Captain Fantastic once again, went on to clinch the Intercontinental Cup by beating Kenya in the final. Chhetri, on his part, scored eight goals in the competition as he equalled Lionel Messi to become the joint second-highest active goal-scorer in International matches.
Up ahead, lies a herculean task for Chhetri and the Indian football team. The AFC Asian Cup, to be held in early 2019, will see the Blue Tigers taking on hosts UAE, Bahrain and Thailand in the group stage. While that remains the biggest challenge in the upcoming season, Chhetri will be keen to repeat his performances with Bengaluru as well.
How much of an impact has Chhetri had on Indian football over the last few months? Have your say in the comments section.