Gurpreet, Sanju named AIFF Players of the Year

Guwahati: Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri celebrates after scoring a goal during 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between India and Oman at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sep 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sanju were on Friday declared as winners of the 2019-20 AIFF men’s and women’s footballer of the year awards respectively.

This is the first time Gurpreet has received the award, and in the process he became the second goalkeeper after Subrata Paul in 2009 to be named the AIFF Player of the Year.

“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,” the 28-year-old, who had also received the Arjuna Award last year, said.

“Garnering the all-important draw against Asian Champions Qatar in Doha, eleven clean sheets in last Indian Super League edition, winning the Golden Glove award could not have been possible without the team,” he added.

Meanwhile, midfielder Sanju was selected the winner for an excellent season while Ratanbala Devi was the winner of the 2019-20 Emerging Women’s Footballer of the Year Award. Both the winners were selected by national women’s team head coach Maymol Rocky in consultation with AIFF Technical Director Isac Doru.

“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,” Sanju said.

“I extend my heartiest congratulations to all the winners. We are really proud of them. They are surely an inspiration for the entire football fraternity in India,” AIFF President Praful Patel said.

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