The All India Football Federation (AIFF) felicitated former India captains Mahesh Gawli and Climax Lawrence at a glittering function in New Delhi. The AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das handed over specially designed silver plaques and two national team jerseys signed by all the nationalteam players to the duo.
The national team players who are supposed to leave for Dubai on Wednesday for a Preparatory Camp for the forthcoming AFC Challenge Cup, were also present.
Mr. Das thanked both for their contribution to Indian football. “They have played 163 international matches between themselves and have been part of so many winning squads. I thank both for their dedication and contribution to Indian football,” Mr. Das said.
Incidentally Mahesh has played in 82 International Matches while Climax has 81 International Matches to his credit. While Mahesh has been a part of seven winning squads – two Nehru Cups (2007 & 2009), two SAFF Championships (2005 & 2011), LG Cup (2002), Bristol Freedom Cup (1998) and the AFC Challenge Cup; Climax has been part of five triumphant squads – two Nehru Cups (2007, 2009), two SAFF Championships (2005 and 2011) and the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008.
“It’s an honour to be felicitated by AIFF in such a manner,” Climax echoed, rubbishing thoughts about a farewell match for him. Mahesh, nodded.
AIFF Player of the Year Sunil Chhetri who was also present said he has learnt a lot from the duo. “When I first came into the national squad, both of them were established stars. But never for a moment did they throw any attitude. Rather, they were overeager to help me out,” he opined. “They have been exemplary disciplinarians.”
“There are a lot of upcoming and talented defenders in India at present,” Mahesh echoed. He named Arnab Mondal, Raju Gaikwad and Anwar Ali as examples.
“Last time, we were part of the triumphant AFC Challenge Cup squad,” Climax recollected. “I have full faith in the present bunch of boys and hope to qualify again,” Mahesh added.
Climax praised the concept of Pailan Arrows, AIFF’s Developmental Team. “Pailan gives an unique opportunity for talented youngsters to play regularly in the I-League. The present India U-23 team is the fruit of Arrows,” he commented.
Referring to a question that there not enough Indian strikers in India, Climax hit back saying: “There is Sunil (Chhetri), Jeje (Lalpekhlua), Sabeeth, Sushil (Singh) amongst others. The YDP is in full flow. I compliment the AIFF for such an initiative.”
“The face of Indian football is fast changing. The scenario has changed a lot from the time we first burst into the national squad. More overhauling is due in the next five years.”
(AIFF Press Release)