ATK-Mohun defender Bagan Sandesh Jhinghan has been awarded the AIFF Men’s Footballer of the Year for 2020-21, and returned to action last season after missing a full season through injury. Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC midfielder Suresh Wangjam was named Emerging Footballer of the Year.
Blue Tigers defender Sandesh Jhingan is the 2020-21 AIFF Male Footballer of the Year, and midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam was named the winner of the AIFF Emerging Male Footballer of the Year 2020-21 Award. Both players were voted on by the club’s coaches.
It is the first time the towering central defender has received the Player of the Year award, having won the Emerging Player of the Year Award in 2014.
He shared his joy at receiving the honor and said: “Being voted by the Hero ISL and Hero I-League club coaches as the AIFF Men’s Soccer Player of the Year 2020-21 is a great honor for me. I take this award as a motivation to do better and inspire others to follow their passion for the sport. A big thank you to the AIFF, my family, my teammates, the support staff and all my coaches, both at the club level and at the national level, for maintaining their trust in me. And a big hug to all those teachers and supporters who have supported me at all times. This award carries with it a great responsibility: not to disappoint anyone. “
Sandesh made his Senior National Team debut in 2015 in Guwahati and has since made 40 appearances for the Blue Tigers, scoring four goals. He was part of the Indian teams that lifted the Intercontinental Hero Cup in 2018 and played a memorable draw at the home of Asian champions Qatar in 2019.
In addition, he has been captain of the senior team on five occasions, the most recent being the International Friendly against Oman in Dubai in March this year. He also received the prestigious Arjuna Award from the Government of India in 2020.
Suresh Singh Wangjam, 20, who made his Blue Tigers debut earlier this year against Oman, becomes the latest midfielder to win the Emerging Footballer of the Year award.
He said: “I am honored to receive the AIFF Male Emerging Footballer of the Year 2020-21 award. I am very happy and grateful. This award will improve my self-confidence and motivate me to achieve more success in the future. “
A former AIFF Academy cadet, Suresh was part of the Indian team that competed in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 and spent two seasons with the AIFF development team, Indian Arrows, in the Hero I-League. Known for his never-ending stamina and box-to-box play, the midfielder has made five appearances for senior national teams and started all three of India’s matches at the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Doha in June.
The award winners were chosen based on the votes of the Hero Indian Super League and Hero I-League club coaches.
“Sincere congratulations to the awardees. I hope they continue to move further and further into the future and continue to inspire with their performances and achievements,” AIFF President Praful Patel said in his statement.