National captain Sunil Chhetri was on Tuesday named the AIFF Men's Footballer of the Year for the seventh time while Manisha Kalyan was picked for her maiden honour in the women's category for the 2021-22 season. Chhetri and Kalyan were nominated as the winners by their respective national team coaches Igor Stimac and Thomas Dennerby.
Chhetri, the third highest goal scorer among active international players, was first named for the award in 2007. He then went on to win it in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018–19 seasons.
"Sunil was our highest goal-scorer, scoring 5 goals, and also the Player of the Tournament in the SAFF Cup," Stimac said. "Furthermore, he led from the front scoring 4 goals in 3 games in the 3rd round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in Kolkata. His commitment, leadership, discipline and hard work were impressive throughout bad, and good times."
For Kalyan, it was her first Women’s Footballer of the Year award. She won the Women’s Emerging Footballer of the Year in the 2020-21 season.
"Manisha has come up with some outstanding performances for the National Team, and also her club. She has scored goals, and also assisted on a regular basis," Dennerby said. "Blessed with excellent speed and being a good dribbler, she has the potential to play in bigger leagues in the future. She’s young, and still developing but has been our best player.”
Kalyan recently signed a multi-year contract with Cypriot top division winners Apollon Ladies, which has earned a place in the qualifying rounds of the 2022-23 UEFA Women's Champions League. In other awards, Martina Thokchom was named the 2021-22 Women’s Emerging Footballer of the Year, and Vikram Partap Singh was picked as the 2021-22 Men’s Emerging Footballer of the Year by the two national team coaches.
AIFF Awards (2021-22)
- Women’s Footballer of the Year: Manisha Kalyan
- Men’s Footballer of the Year: Sunil Chhetri
- Women’s Emerging Footballer of the Year: Martina Thokchom
- Men’s Emerging Footballer of the Year: Vikram Partap Singh
- Best Referee of the Year: Crystal John
- Best Assistant Referee of the Year: Ujjal Halder.
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