NEW DELHI: The All India Football Federation Tuesday announced iconic national team striker Sunil Chhetri as the AIFF Men’s Footballer of the Year 2018-19 at the AIFF executive committee meeting here.
This is the sixth time Chhetri has bagged the prestigious award, having earlier won it in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, and in 2017. Chhetri was voted the winner on basis of votes from all Hero I-League, and Hero Indian Super League club coaches.
Among the women, Ashalata Devi was declared the AIFF Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018-19, while Dangmei Grace won the AIFF Emerging Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018-19.
“The fact that this was voted by the Hero I-League and Hero ISL Coaches makes it all the more special. I am grateful to my club members, coaches, fellow players, the National team staff, and the fans for their support, love, and affection,” Chhetri said, moments after being declared the winner.
On being reminded about winning the Award for the sixth time, he added: “I never play for awards. But yeah, it feels nice when your hard work gets recognized. This is an added motivation to do better.”
Apart from Chhetri, the others who have won the award multiple times include IM Vijayan (thrice), and Bhaichung Bhutia, and Joe Paul Ancheri (twice each).
Meanwhile, Abdul Sahal was declared the AIFF Men’s Emerging Footballer of the Year 2018-19. Sahal who was dubbed as the “next big thing in Indian Football” by Chhetri some days back, was also voted the winner by all Hero I-League, and Hero ISL club coaches.
AIFF President Praful Patel met and congratulated both Chhetri and Devi. “Congratulations to you both,” he stated. “You deserve the award. You have made us proud. I wish you best wishes for your future endeavours,” Patel added, during his meeting with the Indian Senior Women’s National team in the Capital.
The AIFF Award for the Best Referee 2018-19 was won by R Venkatesh (from Tamil Nadu), while Joseph Tony was declared the winner of the AIFF Award for the Best Assistant Referee 2018-19.
The 2018-19 AIFF Award for the Best Grassroots Development Programme went to the Jammu & Kashmir Football Association.
2018-19 AIFF AWARDS AT A GLANCE
Men’s Footballer of the Year 2018-19: Sunil Chhetri (He was voted the winner by all I-League, and ISL Club coaches).
Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018-19: Ashalata Devi (from Manipur).
Men’s Emerging Footballer of the Year 2018-19: Abdul Sahal (from Kerala -- He was voted the winner by all I-League, and ISL club coaches).
Emerging Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018-19: Dangmei Grace (from Manipur).
Award for the Best Referee 2018-19: R Venkatesh (from Tamil Nadu).
Award for the Best Assistant Referee 2018-19: Joseph Tony (from Karnataka).
2018-19 Award for the Best Grassroots Development Programme: Jammu & Kashmir Football Association.