Former India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay was on 01 August 2017 honoured by East Bengal football club on its foundation day here with its highest award, Bharat Gaurav. Former India international Subhash Bhowmick, a member of the 1970 Asian Games bronze medal-winning national football team, and former national team coach Syed Naeemuddin were honoured with lifetime achievement awards.
“This is a very proud moment for me. The ones I used to see on television playing football are sitting in front of me. The award puts greater responsibility on my shoulders to do more for hockey,” Pillay said, receiving the award.
The Bharat Gaurav award to me is like Bharat Ratna. A football club like East Bengal recognising hockey is great. When I used to play in Malaysia, I saw Bhaichung Bhutia play and dribble past players. He played 339 matches for India, scoring 170 goals.
Bhowmick, who coached the red and gold brigade to the ASEAN Club Cup in 2003, said: “I never regretted not getting an Arjuna Award. But I had a regret that East Bengal did not give me a lifetime achievement award. Now it’s done.”
East Bengal centre-back Gurwinder Singh bagged the Footballer of the Year award while Boddupalli Amit was adjudged Cricketer of the Year.