Lenny is India’s best

Churchill Brothers' livewire... Lenny Rodrigues (centre) receives the 'Best Indian Player of the Year' award.-Churchill Brothers' livewire... Lenny Rodrigues (centre) receives the 'Best Indian Player of the Year' award.

As a tireless playmaker, Lenny Rodrigues was at the centre of champion club Churchill Brothers’ campaign in the I-League.

Film actors Pran and Dilip Kumar were quite popular at the Cooperage football ground in the past when fans queued up for tickets on match days. The former owned a club named Bombay Dynamos FC. Decades later, film stars playing the game and expressing support for the Football Players Association of India (FPAI) is a positive sign for the game in the age of live television when fans prefer watching football in their drawing rooms. Abhishek Bachchan gave away the FPAI ‘Young Player’ award to the Pailan Arrows midfielder, Allywn George, and wondered at the fitness levels demanded of professional football players.

In the 2012-13 I-League, George excelled for Pailan Arrows, which is essentially a development squad of the AIFF with only players aged below 23 in its ranks. He was among the Indian probables for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Myanmar in March.

Lenny Rodrigues was at the centre of I-League champion Churchill Brothers’ campaign as a tireless playmaker. He won the ‘Best Indian Player’ award. “I thank my team-mates, coaching staff, Churchill Alemao and family for supporting me and believing in my abilities. I also thank all players who voted for me,” said the 26-year-old Goan.

Nigerian Ranti Martins (Prayag United) is a marked man on the field due to his goal-scoring prowess in the I-League. He picked up his third back-to-back FPAI ‘Foreign Player of the Year’ award and ensured that his absence on the occasion was not felt with a recorded video message. Carlos Hernandez (Prayag), Beto (Churchill), Douhou Pierre (Pune) and Chidi Edeh (East Bengal) were the other heavyweights in contention for the award.

Former India defender Derrick Pereira, who switched over from Pune FC to Salgaocar SC at the end of the 2012-13 I-League, won the ‘Best Coach’ award ahead of four other I-League coaches — Subhash Bhowmick (Churchill), Arthur Pappas (Pailan Arrows), Santosh Kashyap (ONGC) and Trevor Morgan (East Bengal).

Afghanistan-born Zoheb Amiri of Mumbai FC got the maximum votes from fans and was adjudged the ‘Fans Player of the Year’.

Nandakumar Marar