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Playing for 19 years primary reason behind my Khel Ratna Award: Chhetri

New Delhi [India], November 13 (ANI): India football captain Sunil Chhetri on Saturday said that playing for 19 years is the primary reason why he was decided to be conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.

Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, wrestler Ravi Kumar, para shooter Avani Lekhara, Indian football team skipper Chhetri and India women’s cricket stalwart Mithali Raj were among the 12 athletes who received the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award on Saturday.

“One of the primary reasons why I got the Khel Ratna Award is because I have been playing for 19 years. I want to thank each one of the masseurs, physios and doctors. You superstars have been the main reason why I could be on the There have been so many times when I thought I couldn’t, but you guys made it possible for me,” he added,” Sunil stated in an official AIFF release.

“I also need to thank all my clubs, my teammates — both at the clubs and the National Team, the fans and the family. All these years you have suffered with me, rejoiced with me, you were there with me at every ups and downs, you dreamed with me — and I very happily share this award with each and every one of you,” he added.

Sunil on 80 goals is currently tied with Lionel Messi at the second place in the goalscorers list among active footballers at the International level, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading on 115 goals. He had earlier been conferred with the Padma Shri Award, and the Arjuna Award.

For the record, Sunil is the first Indian footballer to have received the award — the highest award for a sportsman in India.

The President of India Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday conferred National Sports Awards to the athletes.

Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Sreejesh PR (Hockey), Sumit Antil (Para Athletics), Pramod Bhagat (Para Badminton), Manish Narwal (Para Shooting), and Manpreet Singh (Hockey) are other athletes who were conferred with the prestigious award.

Krishna Nagar (Para Badminton) was also slated to receive the Khel Ratna Award but had to miss the event after the sudden demise of his mother.

Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of the previous four years. The specially organised award function is being held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. National Sports Awards are given every year to recognise and reward excellence in sports. (ANI)

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