Manila: Former Indian national football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia was honoured with the AFC Hall of Fame Award on occasion of the Asian Football Confederation's 60th anniversary here Sunday.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter presented the award to Bhaichung on the Awards Night here.
AIFF president Praful Patel was also present as were a host of other dignitaries from all over the footballing World.
Moments after receiving it, Bhaichung said the award was not solely for him "but for Indian football".
“It is an honour to be accepting this award not on my behalf, but for football, for India and for all Indian footballers who have to struggle against all odds to prove themselves every single day,” he told www.the-aiff.com.
“This is an award for Indian football,” he reiterated.
“When I first started playing football as a kid, I never imagined where the game would take me. As I moved up through various stages of my playing career - from a teenager with East Bengal to captaining the national team - I had to face obstacles at every single step of the journey,” he recollected.
"But I loved the game. So, I stuck to it and every challenge I faced only made me push harder. I know most Indian players today still face many of the same challenges I did, and this award is for the passion and dedication that makes them continue to play the game," he said.
Praful Patel congratulated Bhaichung on his achievement.
“Bhaichung has been the flag-bearer of Indian football in over 100 international matches. He deserves this award for sure. My heartiest congratulations to him.”
“AIFF has been keen on using his experience and post retirement, Bhaichung has been closely associated with AIFF and we expect to work closely for the development of football in the country,” Patel added.