Dhyan Chand Award for former Indian football captain Shabbir Ali

July 26th, 2011 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Arsenal New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) For former Indian captain Shabbir Ali it was better late than never as on Tuesday he became the first footballer to get the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievement.

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.

“It is a great honour for me. I always had faith in the government that my contributions to Indian football would be recognised one day. I thank Allah for the award,” Shabbir told IANS over phone from Kolkata.

“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.

Hailing from Hyederabad, once a power-house in Indian football, Shabbir started his career with Abbas Union Football Club and then went on to represent Hyderabad Arsenal Club and the famous Andhra Pradesh Special Police, which produced many star footballers.

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.

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