Former Indian captain Shabbir Ali today became the first footballer to be named for the Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievement.
55-year-old Ali, a prolific striker, has played for more than 100 international matches for the country, besides also having spent long years at Kolkata Maidan.
He had also coach some prominent clubs in the country, including I-League sides. He recently guided Bengal to Santosh Trophy title.
Ali, who was ignored for Arjuna Awards, the announcement for the Dhyan Chand Award for his contribution to Indian football, said he would remain the same
irrespective of any laurels. He said he would not have any regret if he was ignored for the award this time also.
Named after the legendary Indian hockey player, Dhyan Chand, the award, initiated in 2002, carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, a statuette, ceremonial dress and a scroll of honour.
As a footballer, Ali was the finest striker in the 70s and 80s both at the national and international level.
He rose to fame at a very early age when he captained India to win the Asian Youth championships in Bangkok jointly with Iran in 1974.Ali had over 35 goals from about 100 international matches, a feat that was later eclipsed by Bhaichung Bhutia.