New Delhi: The only Indian inductee in the Asian Football Federation's Hall of Fame, former captain Baichung Bhutia on Sunday dedicated the rare honour to the country's footballers who continue to "struggle against all odds to prove themselves every single day".
Bhutia was felicitated at AFC's Annual Award ceremony in Manila today, which incidentally also marked 60 years of the Asian governing body's existence.
"It is an honour to be accepting this award not on my behalf, but for football, for India and for all Indian footballers who have to struggle against all odds to prove themselves every single day," Bhutia said after receiving the award.
He expressed his wish to share the award with the country's past and present players.
"I wish to share this award with my fellow Indian footballers, past, present and future."
The Indian football great looked back at his career and and talked about the obstacles he had faced in his initial years to make it big.
"When I first started playing football as a child I never imagined where the game would take me. As I moved up through the various stages of my playing career - a teenager with East Bengal to captaining the national team - I had to face obstacles at every single step of the journey. But I loved the game so I stuck to it and every challenge I faced only made me push harder," said Bhutia.
"I know most Indian players today still face many of the same challenges I did and this award is for the passion and dedication that makes them continue to play the game."