Arguably the greatest Indian footballer of all time, Bhaichung Bhutia, was awarded with the prestigious AFC Hall Of Fame Award on 30th November 2014. With this, the Sikkimesse Sniper became the first Indian footballer to be inducted into the Asian Football Confederation Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, India were also rewarded for their progresses in the grass-root department, and were awarded the Asian Football Confederation President Recognition Award alongside Philippines and Tajikistan.
Bhaichung Bhutia explains that the award was not solely for him “but for Indian Football.” “It is an honor to be accepting this award not on my behalf, but for football, for India and for all Indian footballers who have to struggle against all odds to prove themselves every single day. This is an award for Indian football,” he said.
“When I first started playing football as a kid I never imagined where the game would take me. As I moved up through the various stages of my playing career – from a teenager with East Bengal to captaining the National Team – I had to face obstacles at every single step of the journey,”
“But I loved the game. So I stuck to it and every challenge I faced only made me push harder. I know most Indian players today still face many of the same challenges I did, and this award is for the passion and dedication that makes them continue to play the game. I wish to share this award with my fellow Indian footballers, past, present and future,” he added.
AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel who was also present on the occasion congratulated Bhaichung Bhutia for his achievement, “Bhaichung has been the flag bearer of Indian football in over 100 international matches. He deserves this award for sure. My heartiest congratulations to him.” Mr. Praful Patel also acknowledged about his involvement and association with the All India Football Federation, “AIFF has been keen on using his experience and post retirement, Bhaichung has been closely associated with AIFF and we expect to work closely for the development of football in the country.”