Kolkata: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to send legendary footballer IM Vijayans name for Padma Shri Award to the sports ministry, a top official has said.
Former India captain Vijayan, 51, was the recipient of Arjuna Award in 2003. A three-time AIFF player of the year, Vijayan is one of the most skillful footballers the country has ever produced.
The Padma Shri is the fourth-highest civilian honour after the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan.
Vijayan played 79 matches for India between 1992 and 2003, and scored 40 goals. The reticent Thrissur born-footballer formed a prolific strike partnership for India alongside Bhaichung Bhutia and helped the team score various vital goals in international tournaments.
Vijayan was part of the victorious Indian team in the 1999 South Asian Football Federation Cup and scored one of the fastest international goals in history during the tournament, finding the back of the the net against Bhutan after just 12 seconds.
Vijayan also finished as the top scorer in the Afro-Asian Games event held in India in 2003 with four goals. Vijayan formally retired from international football after the Afro-Asian Games of 2003.
At the club level, some of Vijayan's best performances early on in his career came in a Kerala Police football club shirt, his first team.
Vijayan dished out brilliant performances for Kerala Police at Quilon Nationals 1987, and was able to impress the national football fraternity very soon with his impeccable skills and highly aggressive style of playing. IANS