Indian Men’s Senior National Team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was named the winner of the Arjuna Award on Monday (August 19, 2019), thus becoming the 26th Indian footballer in the prestigious list.
Gurpreet who spent his formative years in the AIFF Centre of Excellence in Goa holds the distinction of being the only Indian to have played in the UEFA Europa League (qualifier), which he achieved while playing for Norwegian club Stabaek Fotball in June 2016, and is also one of the youngest-ever to captain India, the honour coming in India’s international friendly against Puerto Rico in September 2016.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be named for the Arjuna Award. I want this recognition to serve as an inspiration to everyone playing the sport in the country. My joy will then be complete,” Gurpreet mentioned.
Mr. Praful Patel, President, All India Football Federation (AIFF) congratulated Gurpreet on being conferred the Arjuna Award.
“Gurpreet’s composure has been such a remarkable hallmark in Indian football in recent years. You fully deserve this Award. We are extremely proud of you. Keep the flag flying high. Congratulations,” Mr. Patel said.
Mr. Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation said “Congratulations, Gurpreet.”
“Gurpreet epitomises the new breed of an Indian footballer. He started under the AIFF youth development set-up, moved to Europe where he improved himself as a player, and is now a role-model for so many youngsters. He is a deserving recipient,” the General Secretary said. “This is also an Award of recognition for Indian Football,” Mr. Das added.
Gurpreet is the fourth goalkeeper since its inception to have been named for the Award, the previous ones being Subrata Paul (2016), Brahmanand Sankhwalkar (1997), and the late Peter Thangaraj (1967).
The Arjuna Awards are awarded annually by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India in order to recognize outstanding achievements in sports.
Over the years, Gurpreet has emerged as one of the Blue Tigers’ top performers. He has also represented India at U-19 and U-23 level.