The AIFF named India international defender Sandesh Jhingan as its Men’s Footballer of the Year 2020/21, while Suresh Singh Wangjam won the award for Emerging Footballer of the Year 2020/21. The coaches of each club in the Hero Indian Super League and Hero I-League voted for the players.
As a promising youngster in 2014, Jhingan won the Emerging Player of the Year award. Now, the central defender wins the Player of the Year award for the very first time in his professional career. He also celebrates his 27th birthday today and the AIFF award is surely another cherry on the player’s birthday cake.
He shared his joy at receiving the honour, and in a statement on the AIFF website said: “Being voted by club coaches of the Hero ISL and the Hero I-League as the AIFF Men’s Footballer of the Year 2020-21 is a huge honour 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 AIFF, my family, my team-mates, support staff and all my coaches both at the club level, and at the National level for keeping their belief in me. And a big hug to all those teachers and well- wishers who have stood by me all throughout. This Award comes with a huge responsibility – not to let anyone down.”
Jhingan has racked up 40 appearances for India and scored four goals since making his senior team debut for the national team in 2015 in Guwahati. In 2018, he played on the Indian side that won the Hero Intercontinental Cup. In 2019, he appeared in a momentous draw against Asian champions Qatar at their home stadium.