Manpreet Singh becomes first Indian to win FIH Player of the Year award

Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh becomes the first Indian to win the #FIH Best Player of the Year award.

Manpreet Singh made his senior-team debut in 2011 and has won 263 international caps.   -  Getty Images

Men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh on Thursday became the first Indian to win the FIH Player of the Year award as he beat Belgium’s Arthur van Doren and Lucas Vila of Argentina to the accolade for the year 2019.

Manpreet won a total of 35.2 per cent of combined votes, which includes National Associations, media, fans and players. Van Doren, the winner of the award in 2017 and 2018, received 19.7 per cent of the votes while Villa polled 16.5 per cent in his favour.

Belgian midfielder Victor Wegnez and Australia's experienced duo Aran Zalewski and Eddie Ockenden were the others nominated for the award.

“I am truly honoured to win this award and I would like to dedicate this to my team. I also thank my well wishers and hockey fans from around the world for voting in my favour. It is truly humbling to see so much support for Indian hockey,” Manpreet said.
Manpreet, who made his international debut in 2011, has won 263 caps for the national team and has played two Olympics - London 2012 and Rio 2016. He was made the captain of the side in 2017 as India finished fifth at the 2018 Men's World Cup in Bhubaneswar, his first big assignment as captain.

In 2019, Manpreet Singh led the team to victory in the FIH Series Finals and the Olympic Qualifiers, as India secured a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. During this year, India also reached the finals of the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and won the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo while also winning five matches on the trot in Antwerp, Belgium where it played three matches against the host and two matches against Spain.

READ | Hockey: India's Vivek Prasad, Lalremsiami win FIH Rising Star awards

“If you look at our year, we did well in every tournament we participated in. Be it the FIH Series Finals in June or the test series in Belgium where we played the hosts as well as Spain and beat them," he said

“Our biggest goal in 2019 was to book our berth at the Olympics.” The team achieved that goal in style, beating Russia in the Olympic Qualifiers over two legs – 4-2 and 7-2.

Referring to all of the 2019 Hockey Stars Awards announcements made this week, FIH Chief Executive Officer Thierry Weil said: “On behalf of FIH, I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations from the whole hockey community to all winners of the 2019 FIH Stars Awards and also to all nominees. Thanks to their skills and performances, as well as their teammates, they invite fans all over the world to experience great emotions. We are very grateful to them. Athletes, as well as coaches, are the best ambassadors of our sport. I wish all of them every success, in particular those who are involved in the FIH Hockey Pro League and/or the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

This is India's third FIH Hockey Star award after men's team midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad and women's team striker Lalremsiami won the Rising Star of the Year awards on Monday.

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