Senior India defender Sandesh Jhingan was on Wednesday named the AIFF men’s Footballer of the Year, while midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam was picked as the Emerging Player for 2020-21 season.
It is the first time that the towering central defender has received the AIFF Player of the Year award, having won the Emerging Player of the Year Award in 2014.
The award winners were chosen on the basis of votes from the Indian Super League and I-League club coaches.
“I take this award as a motivation to do better, and inspire others to follow their passion for the sport. This Award comes with a huge responsibility — not to let anyone down,” Jhinghan said.
Jhingan made his senior national team debut in 2015 in Guwahati and has since gone on to make 40 appearances for the Blue Tigers, scoring four goals.
He was part of the Indian sides that lifted the Intercontinental Cup in 2018 and played out a memorable draw at the home of the Asian champions Qatar in 2019.
Jhingan has captained the senior team on five occasions, the most recent being the international friendly against Oman in Dubai in March. He was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award last year.
The 20-year-old Suresh, who made his Blue Tigers debut earlier this year against Oman, was part of the Indian side that competed at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017.
A former AIFF Academy cadet, Suresh had spent two seasons with AIFF’s developmental side Indian Arrows in the I-League. Known for his stamina and box-to-box play, the midfielder has notched up five senior national team caps and started all three of India’s games at the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Doha in June.
“Heartiest congratulations to the Awardees. I hope they will continue moving forward from strength to strength in the future and continue to inspire with their performances and achievements,” AIFF President Praful Patel said.