NEW DELHI: Former Indian captain Shabbir Ali has become the first footballer to get the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievement. As a coach, Shabbir Ali led the state of West Bengal to consecutive Santosh Trophy triumphs. He has been given this awar for his contribution to Indian Football, both as a coach as well as a player.
(Picture Credit: Goal.com)
A prolific scorer in both club and international football, Shabbir has 35 goals from 100 international matches. He is the only footballer after P K Banerjee and Syed Nayeemuddin, both Arjuna Award winners, to have excelled as a player and coach.
While Banerjee is among the few footballers to be conferred with the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, Nayeemuddin is the only to get both the Arjuna and the Dronacharya awards. Ali, however was never considered for either the Arjuna or the Dronacharya Award.
Shabbir was elated after being selected for the Dhyan Chand Award.
The 55-year-old former India striker said to Gaol.com, “I’m very happy after winning the award. I received the award for my achievements both, as a coach as well as a player. I was recommended for the Arjuna award three times and in spite of never winning the award, I never complained. But after winning this award today, I feel satisfied because the Indian government has given me some sort of recognition.”
He later said, “There are regrets but I don’t want to think about them. This is a momentous occasion for me and I think this award will be an inspiration for the next generation of Indian footballers,” he said.
Named after the legendary Indian hockey player Dhyan Chand, the award, initiated in 2002, carries a cash prize of rupees 5 lakh, a statuette, ceremonial dress and a scroll of honour.
Shabbir Ali hails from Hyederabad, once a power-house in Indian football. He started his career with Abbas Union Football Club and then went on to represent Hyderabad Arsenal Club and the famous Andhra Pradesh Special Police.
Shabbir then went to Mumbai, where he played for the Tata Sports Club for a brief period before shifting to Kolkata, where he achieved stardom with East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting.
“Today, football has gone down but I think the federation is working hard to take the game to where it belongs. But the onus is on former footballers like us, who have to play a major role in contributing to the development programme,” he said.
Shabbir’s international career spanned from 1974-84, during which he played in four Merdeka Cups, the 1982 Asian Games and the 1984 Asian Cup, for which India had qualified after 20 years.
The Hyderabadi led the junior Indian team to joint champions at the Asia Youth Soccer in 1974, scoring five five goals, and also captained the senior team in the 1981 Merdeka Cup.
As a coach, his credentials were equally enviable. Shabbir guided Salgaocar to become the first Goan club to win the National Football League, now christened at the I-League, in 1998-99. During his tenure with Salgaocar, who are also the current I-League champions, Shabbir led them to victories in the Rovers Cup and the Durand Cup and twice in the Super Cup.
Shabbir also guided the Bengal team to win the Santosh Trophy in 2010 after a gap of 11 years.
He has also been a technical director of the national team and has a B license from the German football association which is equivalent to Asian Football Confederation ( AFC)) B coaching certificate.
(With inputs from IANS)