AIFF recommends IM Vijayan for Padma Shri

AIFF Media

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has recommended former India captain IM Vijayan for Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civilian award.

The 51-year-old former striker, who scored 40 goals in 79 matches for India since making his debut in early 90s, won the Arjuna award in 2003. He was also awarded the Indian 'Player of the Year' in 1993, 1997 and 1999.

Six Indian footballers -- Sailen Manna (1971), Chuni Goswami (1983), P K Banerjee (1990), Bhaichung Bhutia (2008), Sunil Chhetri (2019) and Bembem Devi (2020) -- have won the Padma Shri.

"I am happy that I have been recommended for the Padma Shri and I thank the AIFF for that. I will be happier if I get the award," Vijayan said from his home in Kerala.

"I have served Indian football to the best of my abilities and I have no regrets," he added.

Vijayan, who led the Indian team from 2000 to 2003, had memorable stints with Mohun Bagan, Kerala Police, the now defunct FC Cochin and JCT Mills Phagwara.

Vijayan is also credited to have scored one of the fastest international goals, managing to find the back of the net in just 12 seconds in a match against Bhutan in the 1999 SAF Games.

He had scored four goals to emerge as the top scorer in the Afro-Asian Games held in India in 2003. It was his last appearance for the country.

Vijayan, who used to sell soda during football games in his home town Thrissur's Corporation stadium early in his life, began his career as a striker with the Kerala Police Football Club at the age of 17.

After retiring, Vijayan set up a football academy to train young players in his home town.