Indian duo Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Sandesh Jhingan picked up the big honours in the Indian Football awards, organised by the Footballer Players' Association of India (FPAI) on Sunday.
Two categories of awards -- from the I-League and the Indian Super League -- were introduced for the first time in the seventh edition of the awards ceremony, and while Lyngdoh clinched the Best Indian Player award for his performances with Bengaluru FC in the I-League last season, Jhingan was rewarded the same for his performances with ISL side Kerala Blasters.
"Cricket maybe the popular sport in India but I want to change the country for football, which is the way forward. I always dreamed of playing football," Eugeneson, 29, who also bagged the best midfielder of the I-League in the 2015 edition, said.
It was also the Shillong player's debut season with Bengaluru FC. Eugeneson, who will play for FC Pune City in this edition of the Indian Super League, received the award last night from Portugal International and Atletico de Kolkata marquee player Helder Postiga as well as Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia, who is also one of the founders of FPAI.
Lyngdoh was signed by the Pune franchise in the ISL player auction for a whopping Rs 1.05crore. His base price was a mere Rs. 27.5 lakh.
Meanwhile, ISL-winning Spanish coach Antonio Hanas also bagged the "Best Coach" award in the ISL category following a dream of a tournament that saw him guide Atletico de Kolkata to the title.
"It's for my all players without whom I could not have won the award. The key to success is 'work, work and work'," the Spaniard said.
In the I-League category, Royal Wahingdoh head coach Santosh Kashyap bagged the "best coach" honours. Kashyap inspired the side -- newly-promoted in the I-League last year -- to third in the 2015 edition, after some incredible and heart-stopping performances, for which the Shillong side also earned the name of "giant-killers".
"I love my players and I also learn things from them. Life is a learning process, I thank my players for voting me. My dream is to coach India," Kashyap said.
Meanwhile, Indian football icon Bhutia said the ISL has taken Europe by storm, and the cash-rich Indian football tournament remains the major talking point everywhere.
"I returned from Holland and I noticed there that everyone in Europe is talking about the ISL. At this time, I feel every player's right is safeguarded. We will continue to work for the welfare of players in India," Bhaichung said.
Indian football veteran Shyam Thapa, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievment Award, also requested both the ISL and the I-League to bring up a minimum of ten residential football academies across the country, and keep focussing on the long-term growth of Indian football.
"We must focus on youth development and only by this way Indian football can develop," the 67-year-old said.
The full list of awardees
Indian Super League:
Best Indian Player: Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters FC)
Best Coach: Antonio Habas (Atletico de Kolkata)
Best Indian Player: Eugeneson Lyngdoh (Bengaluru FC)
Best Foreign Player: Sony Norde (Mohun Bagan)
Best Coach: Santosh Kashyap (Royal Wahingdoh)
Best Young Footballer: Thongkhoseim Haokip (Pune FC)
Best Fans Player: Jayesh Rane (Mumbai FC)
Lifetime Achievement: Shyam Thapa.