New Delhi: Indian striker Sunil Chhetri was awarded the AIFF Player of the Year award during the farewell exhibition match of Bhaichung Bhutia against German giants Bayern Munich in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Chhetri was handed the award by AIFF president Praful Patel in a presentation during the interval. He was handed a silver plaque and a cheque of Rs. 2 lakh.
An elated Chhetri thanked all his teammates and coaches and the AIFF for the award.
"This is an inspiration to do better. 2011 has been good for me. I had earlier received the Arjuna Award and now the AIFF Player of the Year Award. It feels nice when your achievements are recognised," he said.
Chhetri, who scored 24 goals (13 international goals and 11 goals for clubs) in 2011, had earlier received the same award in 2007.
Chhetri finished as the topscorer during India's victorious campaign in the recently-concluded SAFF Cup, and was chosen as the Man of the Tournament. However, an ankle injury in the final ruled him out of the exhibition match against Bayern Munich, which the German heavyweights won 4-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
In his message, Patel congratulated Chhetri and wished him more success in coming years.
"Sunil Chhetri is a deserving recipient of the award. I hope this will spur him on to bring more laurels for the national team in the near future. I wish him success in coming years," Patel said.
For the first time the award was decided in a democratic manner, where all the coaches of the teams playing in the I-League voted unanimously to select the winner from the four short-listed footballers.