FC Goa star defender Anwar Ali was honoured with the Comeback of The Year award at the 2023 Sportstar Aces Awards in Mumbai in a function held at the The Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
The jury, chaired by India batting great Sunil Gavaskar, bestowed the honours on the defender for his resilience and passion for the sport which saw him return to playing football in 2022. The 22-year-old put in a number of impressive performances for his Club, FC Goa and the Indian national team – serving as a source of continued hope and inspiration for the youth and fans of the sport in India.
Speaking upon receiving the honours, Anwar said, “Football is everything to me. It’s my identity. When I was banned, it felt like my life had been taken away.
“And when your life is on the line, one can go to the extremes. I did the same. I am a a centre-back on the field and football has taught me how to fight for every inch. I fought tooth and nail – this time for football.
“This award is for everyone who were with me throughout the fight – my parents, Mr Ranjit Bajaj, FC Goa – who gave me the second life in football – the management and the fans.
“Lastly would like to thank the jury who recognized me and my fight. I am grateful.”
A comeback for the ages
A star of the Indian U17 National Team that participated in the 2017 U17 FIFA World Cup that was held in India, Ali was barred from playing competitive football by the AIFF in 2019 after he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called Apical Hypercardiomyopathy (HCM).
The defender, though, strode on, determined to make a comeback after a plethora of medical tests and legal issues, he was eventually granted permission to resume his career after a gap of more than a year.
Anwar joined FC Goa in the January transfer window in 2022, making his Indian Super League debut the same month.
He quickly went on to make a mark with his play, earning rave reviews which eventuated into selection for the Indian national team in June 2022 for the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. He made an immediate mark at the international stage – scoring against Hong Kong in the qualifiers and helping India secure a place in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Awardees in more than 25 sports categories were chosen in the 2023 Sportstar Aces Award by a Jury comprising former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar (Chairperson), former World Champion shooter Anjali Bhagwat, nine-time national badminton champion Aparna Popat, former India hockey captain M.M.Somaya, former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra and five-time chess world champion Viswanathan Anand.
Past winners of the Sportstar Aces Awards include badminton legend Prakash Padukone, Indian batting great GR Viswanath, Olympic gold medalists Abhinav Bindra and Neeraj Chopra, former India captains Kapil Dev, Virat Kohli, Olympic medalists Mary Kom, P.V. Sindhu and many others.
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee
Source: FC GOA Media Desk