A first for India: Manpreet Singh is FIH Men’s Player of the Year

The Indian hockey men’s team captain edged out Arthur Van Doren and Lucas Vila for the award.

By Sandeep Banerjee ·

Indian hockey men's team captain Manpreet Singh has been awarded the FIH Player of the Year 2019 award by the International Hockey Federation.

Winning 35.2 per cent of combined votes, Manpreet Singh beat Belgium's Arthur Van Doren (19.7 per cent) and Lucas Vila of Argentina (11.7 per cent).

With 242 international appearances under his belt, the midfielder has been a key driver of India's success in hockey over the past few years.

Manpreet Singh was among six hockey players who contracted the coronavirus. Photo: Hockey India

Manpreet Singh led the Indian hockey team in the Olympic hockey qualifiers where they convincingly secured a Tokyo 2020 spot with an 11-3 drubbing on Russia.

“If you look at our year, we did well in every tournament that we participated in,” said Manpreet Singh in an exclusive interview with the Olympic Channel. “Be it the FIH Men’s Series Finals in June or the Test series in Belgium where we played the hosts as well Spain and beat them.”

Manpreet Singh was also at the helm as Indian hockey kicked off the Olympic year on a dominant run in the FIH Pro League, beating the Netherlands and following that with a successful rout of world No. 1 Belgium.

An illustrious list of co-nominees

His fellow FIH Player of the Year award nominees included highly capable players with major accomplishments behind them.

Australians Eddie Ockenden and Aran Zalewski were part of the 2019 FIH Pro League-winning squad, while Belgians Victor Wegnez and Arthur Van Doren's squad won the 2018 World Cup.

Argentina’s Lucas Vila's squad won the gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.

More FIH awards for Indian hockey players

Manpreet Singh’s award caps off a plethora of prestigious awards already bestowed upon Indian hockey players.

Earlier, 19-year-old Vivek Sagar Prasad of India picked up the FIH Rising Star of the Year in the men’s category. The young midfielder from Madhya Pradesh represented India 43 times at the senior level. Prasad was also part of the Indian squad when they eased past Russia in their Olympic qualifier games.

In women’s hockey, teenage sensation Lalremsiami won the FIH Rising Star category. The 19-year-old was part of the Indian side when they won a silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.