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The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to send footballer IM Vijayan’s name for Padma Shri Award to the sports ministry, reports said

Former India captain from Kerala, Vijayan, 51, was the recipient of Arjuna Award in 2003. A three-time AIFF player of the year, Vijayan is one of the most skilful footballers the country has ever produced.

Vijayan played 79 matches for India between 1992 and 2003, and scored 40 goals. The reticent Thrissur born-footballer formed a prolific strike partnership for India alongside Bhaichung Bhutia and helped the team score various vital goals in international tournaments.

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He was part of the victorious Indian team in the 1999 South Asian Football Federation Cup and scored one of the fastest international goals in history during the tournament, finding the back of the net against Bhutan after just 12 seconds.

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He also finished as the top scorer in the Afro-Asian Games event held in India in 2003 with four goals. Vijayan formally retired from international football after the Afro-Asian Games of 2003.

At the club level, some of Vijayan’s best performances early on in his career came in a Kerala Police football club shirt, his first team.

Vijayan put up some brilliant performances for Kerala Police at Quilon Nationals 1987, and was able to impress the national football fraternity very soon with his skills and aggressive style.

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He also played for Mohun Bagan and towards the end of his career donned the East Bengal jersey too.

The Sports Ministry had on June 3 extended the deadline for submission of applications for the National Sports Awards till June 22.