Former India striker Shabbir Ali, who took up full-time coaching after retirement on 26 June 2011 became the first footballer to win the prestigious Dhyan Chand award as recognition for his lifetime achievement in sports. Shabbir recently helped Bengal successfully defend the Santosh Trophy in Guwahati.
The Dhyan Chand Award is India’s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports and was instituted in 2002. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, a statuette, a ceremonial dress and a scroll of honour. Bengal’s Aparna Ghosh (basketball) was the first recipient of this award along with Ashok Diwan (hockey) and Shahuraj Birajdar (boxing).
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) could not nominate Shabbir for the Dronacharya award as the guidelines stipulate that aspirants should have coached the national team.
Syed Nayeemuddin remains the only football coach to recieve Dronacharya honour (1990).