Creme de la creme: Hero ISL 2019-20 Season Award winners and their contributions
The final chapter of another engaging Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) season unfolded on Saturday with ATK FC edging out Chennaiyin FC in the final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday. The Kolkata-based side triumphed over the Marina Machans by a 3-1 scoreline on the defining night to clinch an unprecedented third Hero ISL title.
The match brought to an end six months of riveting football with multiple players stepping up and making a big mark on the competition with their stellar displays. However, as in any competitive event, some stood out more than others. Like every season, the Hero ISL recognized their excellence on the pitch with the prestigious Season Awards. Here, we take a look at the winners and their contributions over the season.
Golden Glove - Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)
Having won the Golden Glove for his incredible performances last season, Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu retained the award in Hero ISL 2019-20 after another impressive campaign. Despite the Blues crashing out in the semi-final stage, Gurpreet was top draw throughout the season and conceded just a goal in every 122.14 minutes he was on the pitch, guarding Bengaluru's goal. The India international raked up 11 clean sheets in 19 appearances this campaign, setting a new record for most clean sheets kept in a single Hero ISL season. He conceded a total of just 14 goals throughout the season and made 49 saves.
DHL Winning Pass of the League and Hero of the League - Hugo Boumous (FC Goa)
With 11 assists to his name this season, FC Goa's Hugo Boumous not only set a new record for the most number of assists in a single Hero ISL season by a player, besting Florent Malouda and Leo Moura's 8 assists from Hero ISL 2015 and Arnold Issoko's same tally from the 2018-19 campaign. The 24-year-old was the recipient of the coveted DHL Winning Pass of the League award for Hero ISL 2019-20. Apart from his proficiency in laying down assists for his teammates, the Frenchman also scored 10 goals in 15 matches this season, making him the first player in Hero ISL history to register double digit goals and assists tallies in a single season. On the back of these incredible numbers, he also bagged the Hero of the League award.
ISL Emerging Player of the League – Sumit Rathi (ATK FC)
In a season which saw several youngsters shine and announce themselves on Indian football's biggest stage, ATK FC’s Sumit Rathi stood out just a bit more and bagged the ISL Emerging Player of the League award for his incredible displays in the Hero ISL 2019-20 champions’ backline. After breaking into the starting line-up around December, the youngster was a permanent fixture in Antonio Lopez Habas’ back three and earned big plaudits for his matured displays despite his tender age. The 18-year-old played 14 matches and accounted for a massive 115 clearances, 27 interceptions and had a passing accuracy of more than 70%. In the crunch final as well, Rathi stood out by completing 20 clearances.
Maruti Suzuki Golden Boot – Nerijus Valskis (Chennaiyin FC)
Despite ending the final on the losing side, Chennaiyin striker Nerijus Valskis bagged the coveted Golden Boot award after edging out ATK’s Roy Krishna in a race which went right down to the wire. The Lithuanian striker took his time to settle in the league but was almost unstoppable once Owen Coyle took over. His hold up play and finishing ability was central to the Marina Machans’ run to the final. He scored Chennaiyin’s only goal in the final to equal Krishna’s tally of 15 goals for the season. With both players tied on six assists as well, Valskis edged out the Fijian by the virtue of having played lesser minutes.