Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Indian women's team midfielder Sanju have claimed the AIFF Player of the Year award for the men's and women's teams respectively.
The 28-year-old Sandhu has been a mainstay of the Indian football team for the last few years, and has also captained the side on several occasions.
Speaking after being felicitated with the award, Sandhu paid tribute to Sunil Chhetri. He also went on to thank the AIFF along with the ISL, two major building blocks in his career thus far. Gurpreet has also won the Arjuna award in the past.
"There was always a desire to reach this point and this is an award which I have always looked up to. Chhetri-bhai (Sunil Chhetri) has won it so many times and I have always thought when I can be worthy enough to win it,” Gurpreet said. “Huge thanks go to AIFF and everyone who has supported and helped me relentlessly, to help me achieve this today,” he added.
“Garnering the all-important draw against Asian Champions Qatar in Doha, eleven clean sheets in the last Hero Indian Super League edition, winning the Golden Glove award could not have been possible without the team.”
In addition to Gurpreet's win, Indian football team midfielder Sanju claimed the award for the AIFF Women's Player of the Year. The 22-year-old currently plays for I-League side Gokulam Kerala and has smashed 11 goals in 30 appearances for the national side. 20-year-old Ratanbala Devi took home the emerging player's award.
Sanju said, "Personally, it's a big milestone for me. This award is the proof that all the hard work that we have been doing over the last few years has indeed paid off. I would like to thank AIFF for all the exposure that we have got to grow and to improve ourselves. I'd also like to thank the seniors in our team. All of them have been an immense help to me and have helped me cope with the rigours of international football. I'd also like to thank Maymol ma'am for allowing me the time and the opportunity to grow within the team and express myself on the pitch.”
Anirudh Thapa wins AIFF Emerging player award
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Chennaiyin FC midfielder Anirudh Thapa took home the AIFF Emerging Player award for the year. In recent times, Thapa has been a rather important member of the Indian side and is tipped to take over as skipper at some point.
“This news is a breath of fresh air for me and my family — especially whatever we have witnessed so far in this year. I would like to thank AIFF, all my teammates and coaching staff to help me achieve whatever I could. We have garnered some fantastic performances at the club front as well as for the National team last year, but we need to push harder to raise the bar, and we can surely do that,” Thapa said. “That fact that I was voted by coaches from the clubs makes this all the more special.”Published 25 Sep 2020, 15:36 IST