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Lausanne/UNI: National men's team captain Manpreet Singh on Thursday became the first Indian to win the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) Player of the Year award, since the awards were introduced in 1999.In June last year, Manpreet had successfully led the team to victory, beating South Africa in the Final of the event.
He was also instrumental in Indian Team's performance at the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in November last year, where they edged out Russia, to earn their ticket to 2020 Tokyo Olympics.In FIH Player of the Year 2019 (Men) category, Manpreet was up against World Champions Victor Wegnez and Arthur van Doren from Belgium, FIH Pro League 2019 winners Aran Zalewski and Eddie Ockenden from Australia, as well as Lucas Vila from Argentina.
Belgium's Arthur van Dorren and Lucas Villa of Argentina came second and third, respectively.
Manpreet polled a total of 35.2 per cent of combined votes, which includes National Associations, media, fans and players.Van Dorren, on the other hand, got combined vote share of 19.7 per cent, while Villa polled 16.5 per cent in his favour.
Manpreet, who had represented India at 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics, has enjoyed a long career in the national team since he made his debut in 2011. He now has 260 international appearances under his belt. Manpreet dedicated the award to his teammates, saying without their support it wouldn't have been possible.
"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," he said.FIH CEO Thierry Weil congratulated all the winners, including Manpreet on their achievements.
"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," he said. Hockey India President Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad also congratulated Manpreet.
"He has matured over the years as a player and proved his importance in the team. He has led India to important victories," he said.
Besides Manpreet, young midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad won the FIH Male Rising Star of the Year award, while striker Lalremsiami bagged the 2019 FIH Women's Rising Star of Year recognition.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons