Gurpreet Singh Sandhu conferred with prestigious Arjuna Award

Image Courtesy: AFC Media

India and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been conferred with the Arjuna Award by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Government of India. Started in 1961, the Arjuna Awards are given out to prominent sports personalities to recognize outstanding achievement in their respective fields.

Gurpreet is among 19 athletes who received the prestigious award this year. The list also includes the likes of cricketers Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav, hockey player Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, shooter Anjum Moudgil, among others. He is the only footballer in this year's shortlist and also the first male Indian footballer to win the award since Subrata Paul received the title back in 2016. To recall, Sunil Chhetri was conferred with the Arjuna Award back in 2011.

According to the latest guidelines, to be eligible for the award, a sportsperson should not only have had consistent good performances for the past four years on the international stage with excellence for the year for which the award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.

Twenty-seven-year-old Gurpreet has been at the forefront of Indian football for several years now and is an integral part of the current national team. He has also been sensational for Bengaluru FC since joining them back in 2017 and won the Hero Super Cup 2018 and the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 title with the Blues. Gurpreet was the standout goalkeeper during the Hero ISL 2018-19 campaign and bagged the Golden Glove award for the season.

The towering custodian has also plied his trade abroad, having turned out for Norwegian top division club Stabæk from 2014 to 2017. He also holds the distinction of being the first Indian footballer to feature in a UEFA Europa League match, having started in the first leg of Stabæk's First Qualifying round tie against Welsh side Connah's Quay back in 2016.

With the Indian national football team, Gurpreet has won the 2015 SAFF Cup and the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2018. The Punjab-born goalkeeper also played a huge part in India's historic draw against China on their Red Dragons' own backyard last year.

"I am thrilled and honoured to be named for the Arjuna Award. I want this recognition to serve as an inspiration to everyone playing the sport in the country. My joy will then be complete," Gurpreet was quoted as saying after receiving the award.

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