Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the 26th footballer to receive the prestigious Arjuna Award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi today, August 29, 2019. Gurpreet received the Award from the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
He is the 4th goalkeeper to have received the Award, his predecessors including Subrata Paul (2016), Brahmanand Sankhwalkar (1997), and the late Peter Thangaraj (1967).
The 26-year old who remains the sole Indian to debut in the UEFA Europa League (qualifier) dedicated his award to the past and future generations of football in the nation.
“I am very fortunate to win this award,” said Gurpreet. “I want to dedicate it to the seniors who made this possible for me for paving a way. This Award is for the future generations who are about to come in this path. I hope this will act as a catalyst to inspire them,” he added.
Gurpreet who has been at National Team preparatory camp since August 20 in Goa, said that his teammates were very excited, and even demanded a party from him.
“The team wanted a party. That is how they wanted to celebrate this award and I got congratulated by every one of them,” the lanky custodian smiled. “I am thankful to have their support.”
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had been a part of the AIFF’s Centre of Excellence in his formative years before he played for East Bengal and later moved to Norway’s Stabaek IF, from where he switched colours to Bengaluru FC in 2017.
He has also captained India in a 4-1 win over Puerto Rico in 2016 and has been vital under the bar, helping the Blue Tigers to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, and maintain an unbeaten streak of 12 official International matches from June 2016 to November 2017.