India’s mascot captain Sunil Chetri was recommended for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Hel Ratna, the highest sports honor in the country, by the Football Federation of India.
The national striker of the national football team Bala Devi, who currently plays for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League for women, has been recommended for the coveted Arjuna Award.
“We recommended Sunil Chetri for the Hel Ratna Award and Bala Devi for the Arjuna Award,” an official PTI source said on condition of anonymity.
“We also recommended Gabriel Joseph for the Dronachar Award,” the source added.
The 36-year-old Chetri has been in great shape for the country and his club Bengaluru FC for the past few years. He has played 118 international matches, scoring 74 goals, both Indian records.
He scored twice against Bangladesh in the last World Cup qualifiers in Qatar to become the second highest scorer in international goals among active footballers, ahead of Argentine maestro Lionel Messi.
However, he is currently in fourth place, with Ali Mabhuut of the United Arab Emirates (76) and Messi (75) ahead of him.
Four is the winner of Padma Sri (2019), the fourth highest civic honor in the country, and the Arjuna Award (2011).
Since debuting in 2005, Four has been part of the Indian team that has won the AFC Challenge Cup (2008), SAFF Championships (2011, 2015), Nehru Cup (2007, 2009, 2012), Intercontinental Cup (2017, 2018). He also played in the Asian Cup in 2011 and 2019.
Devi, 31, on the other hand, became the first Indian footballer to play for the PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE in Europe when she joined Rangers from Glasgow in January last year.
She has played more than 50 games for the country since 2010 and will play an important role in the national team during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which will host the country next year.