Eugeneson Lyngdoh of Bengaluru FC and Sandesh Jhingan of Kerala Blasters FC were on Sunday honoured with the 'Best Indian Players' Awards of the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL) in the seventh edition of Indian Football Awards organised by Footballer Players' Association of India (FPAI) here. (Read more football stories here)
"Cricket maybe the popular sport in India but I want to change the country for football, which is the way forward. I always dreamt of playing football," the 29-year-old midfielder Lyngdoh, who played a key role in Bengaluru's second-place finish in the 2014-15 I-League, said.
Lyngdoh received the award from two-time Portugal World Cupper and Atletico de Kolkata marquee player Helder Postiga and Indian football icon Bhaichung Bhutia, one of the founders of FPAI that organised the show.
I-League champions Mohun Bagan's star Haitian winger Sony Norde was adjudged Best Foreign Player, which was received by his club officials in his absence. Santosh Kashyap, who coached qualifiers Royal Wahingdoh to third-place finish, in their debut I-League season was adjudged 'Best Coach'.
"I love my players and I also learn things from them. Life is a learning process, I thank my players for voting me. My dream is to coach India," Kashyap said.
Having included ISL in this year's edition, the franchise tournament's Best Coach award was given to Antonio Habas, who guided Atletico de Kolkata to win the inaugural edition in 2014.
"It's for my all players without whom I could not have won the award. The key to success is 'work, work and work'," the Spaniard said.
Former Kerala Blasters FC forward Iain Hume, who has switched to ATK, won the 'ISL Best Foreign Player'. The Best Indian Player of ISL was awarded to Kerala Blasters FC defender Sandesh Jhingan, who was called up for the national team after a spectacular show for the runners-up side.
Mumbai FC's Jayesh Rane won the Fans Player of the Year award as he said:"I dedicate this awards to my fans and my parents. I hope to live up to their expectations."
Having scored two hat-tricks in the I-League and then for getting a call-up in the U-23 national team, Thongkhoseim Haokip of Pune FC was adjudged 'Young Footballer of Year'. "I returned from Holland today and I noticed there that everyone in Europe is talking about the ISL. At this time, I feel every player's right is safeguarded. We will continue to work for the welfare of players in India," FPAI founder and former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia said.
This year's awards also included a special Lifetime Achievement category which was conferred on Shyam Thapa, who had helped India win the Asian Games and Merdeka tournament bronze medals in 1970.
The 67-year-old urged the I-League and ISL teams to bring up at least 10 residential academies across the country. "We must focus on youth development and only by this way Indian football can develop," Thapa, who was with TFA and Mohun Bagan Academy said.