Star striker Sunil Chhetri says winning the prestigious Arjuna Award will spur him to do better in future.
"It's an inspiration to do better as I am now in the same league with so many legendsÂ not only from football but from various disciplines of sports," he said after receiving the award from President Pratibha Devisingh Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here on Monday.
Chhetri also said that this is the beginning of a new journey for him. "The award comes with more responsibility and I cannot let others down. I need to punch myself and go that extra mile."
The Delhi-based Indian striker dedicated the award, which according to him, was beyond immagination at the start of his career with Mohun Bagan, to his folks.
"It has to be dedicated to my family. Other than their support all this wouldn't have been possible. Over the years, all my coaches and my teammates have contributed a lot to shape my career. I can never forget their contribution and help. But this award is solely dedicated to my family," he was quoted as saying by www.the-aiff.com.
Chhetri admitted that he was nervous when his name was announced. "I can't explain that. From the time, I landed at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, I was joking with the other awardees to ease off the tension. But when my name was announced, I just froze. The entire atmosphere got to me.
"Receiving an Award could be so toughÂ I understood the hard way. And as I come from an Army background, receiving it from the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces makes it all the more special," he said.
Chhetri said he had never dreamt of winning an award at the start of his career. "It's hard for a player to plan for the future, especially in a game like football. Obviously, at that stage I never even thought of an Award at any stage, leave aside the Arjuna Award. I just wanted to keep playing. But it feels good when you are rewardedÂ you feel special; and this indeed is a special Moment for me," he said.