AIFF player of the year Syed Rahim Nabi has set his eyes on the prestigious Arjuna Award, saying he deserves the recognition after having served the national football team "for long and with distinction."
Fresh from his exploits on the field in 2012, during which he also received the Mohun Bagan Player-of-the-Year Award besides being named the Indian Player of the Year by FPAI (Football Players' Association of India), Nabi said even the All India Football Federation title was long time coming.
"...I'm glad to have received it and feel I deserved it too. This year has been good for me as a footballer...I have played in every position my club coaches (over the years) have asked me to. In that sense, I feel, the recognition could have come earlier as well," Nabi said in an interview.
However, the 27-year-old is glad to have his efforts recognised, and is "enjoying the moment".
Besides, he pointed out that as a player, his focus is on performing well and trying to win every match. "A footballer shouldn't expect anything at any given time," he added.
What makes the latest award special is that the winner is chosen by coaches of the different I-league clubs.
"This is perhaps the biggest compliment a player can expect. The fact that all the coaches unanimously voted for me makes me all the more confident. It shows that you are being recognised by the right persons," he added.
Dedicating the award to his wife as well as the staff and officials of AIFF, Nabi also extended gratitude towards chief coach of the Indian football team, Wim Koevermans.
Approaching the end of a personally difficult year, when his wife survived a serious accident a few months before the player himself got injured during a violence-marred I-League match, Nabi is happy to end it on a high note, describing the awards as the much needed soothing "balm" and a motivating factor, which will push him to perform better.