New Delhi:Union Minister Praful Patel was on Tuesday formally elected as the president of the All India Football Federation, thus bringing curtains to ailing Priyan Ranjan Dasmunsi 20-year reign as the head of the AIFF.
Patel, the civil aviation minister in the UPA government at the centre, was elected to the top post unopposed at the Annual General Body meeting of the AIFF at its headquarters here.
Patel was working as acting president of the AIFF since Dasmunsi suffered a cardiac arrest last October.
"I really thank everyone for the support that you have offered to me and I hope we all will work together for the upliftment and development of the game in the country," Patel said in a statement issued by the AIFF.
Dasmunsi held the post of AIFF president since 1988 before encountering the heart-attack, which made him bed-ridden.
The AGM also decided to appointed Dasmunsi as the honorary president of the AIFF.
At the AGM, national coach Bob Houghton also presented his plan for the development of the senior team for the preparation of various tournaments, including the AFC Asian Cup 2011.
Patel also announced that India goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who played the main role in India's Nehru Cup triumph in August here, has been chosen as the "Footballer of the year".
The AIFF also felicitated national captain Bhaichung Bhutia for his 100th appearance for the country during the Nehru Cup.
Bhutia is the 37th Asian and 152nd international footballer to have played more than 100 matches for his country.
Meanwhile, national coach Bob Houghton, who made a presentation before the AGM, said India will have two teams - Under-23 and senior team - for the preparations of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
"Because of the packed schedule, the U-23 team will take part in the SAFF Championship in Bangladesh in December, the AFC Challenge Cup in Sri Lanka in January-February next year and the SAFF Games," Houghton said.
"The senior team will remain in the national camp besides playing four matches of 2014 World Cup qualifiers," he said.
Bhutia was presented with a gold coin, a silver plaque and a cheque of Rs five lakh by AIFF president Praful Patel. Paul was also given away Rs five lakh for becoming the 'Footballer of the Year'.
Bhutia's parents and wife Madhuri was present on the occasion.
"It's a great honour to be felicitated in front of all the officials from different states of the country. I would like to dedicate this honour to the past and present players I have played with in the past 16 years," the India skipper said.
"For the last 3-4 years India has been doing well in international competitions and we have been playing more international matches than before. We need more international matches to produce players who can play 100 matches for the country," Bhutia said.
Patel described Bhutia as a national football icon and one of the greatest players the country has ever produced. "Bhaichung, you have been the icon and one of the greatest players of India. Your commitment on the field has inspired millions of youngsters towards the game.
This felicitation is a small thing and I promise that we in the AIFF will try to give more international exposure to the national team in years to come," the newly installed AIFF president said.