Indian men’s football team captain Sunil Chhetri was named the AIFF Men's Footballer of the Year for the seventh time. In the women’s category, Manisha Kalyan bagged her maiden award for the 2021-22 season.
Chhetri and Kalyan were nominated as the winners by their national team coaches Igor Stimac and Thomas Dennerby. Chhetri was the third highest goal scorer among active international players and won the award for the first time in 2007. He then went on to lift the player of the year trophy in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018-19 seasons.
"Sunil was our highest goal-scorer, scoring 5 goals, and also the Player of the Tournament in the SAFF Cup," Stimac said. "Furthermore, he led from the front scoring 4 goals in 3 games in the 3rd round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in Kolkata. His commitment, leadership, discipline and hard work were impressive throughout bad and good times."
Whereas for Manisha Kaylan, it was her first Women's Footballer of the Year award. She had previously won the Women's Emerging Footballer of the Year in the 2020-21 season. "Manisha has come up with some outstanding performances for the National Team, and also her club. She has scored goals, and also assisted on a regular basis," Dennerby said.
"Blessed with excellent speed and being a good dribbler, she has the potential to play in bigger leagues in the future. She's young, and still developing but has been our best player." Manisha completed her move to Cypriot top division winners Apollon Ladies. She will also get a chance to play in the qualifying rounds of the 2022-23 UEFA Women's Champions League.
Martina Thokchom won the 2021-22 Women's Emerging Footballer of the Year, while Vikram Partap Singh was named the 2021-22 Men's Emerging Footballer of the Year by the two national team coaches.
AIFF Awards (2021-22):
Women's Footballer of the Year: Manisha Kalyan
Men's Footballer of the Year: Sunil Chhetri
Women's Emerging Footballer of the Year: Martina Thokchom
Men's Emerging Footballer of the Year: Vikram Partap Singh
Best Referee of the Year: Crystal John
Best Assistant Referee of the Year: Ujjal Halder.