| Sunil Chhetri |
New Delhi: JCT striker Sunil Chhetri was adjudged the Player of the Year by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Sunday.
Announcing this, AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said four former India captains — Sailen Manna, PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami and Syed Nayeemuddin — have been made the honorary members of the federation without the voting rights.
Chhetri, who played a major role in Indias triumph in the Nehru Cup in Delhi last September, has now joined players like IM Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri, Bhaichung Bhutia and Bruno Coutinho who have won the prestigious AIFF award.
While mercurial striker Vijayan remains the only player who has bagged this award thrice, Ancheri won it twice – once as a winger in 1994 and then again in 2001 when he mostly played as a central defender.
Last season I was named the best player of the NFL but this is a greater honour, Chhetri told The Telegraph. I also feel honoured to be in a list that includes Vijayan and Bhaichung.
Chhetri admitted that he has been going through a lean patch in the ongoing I-League. In six matches, he has scored only once and has been booked by the referee thrice.
Perhaps my desperation to score goals is telling on my temperament... Now I am playing more as a fifth midfielder. It is not always easy to score goals from that position, he said.