Kochi: Footballer C. K. Vineeth received the ‘Star of 2016’ award, instituted by Malayalam Manorama and Kosamamttam Finance, at a function held in Kochi on Monday.
Malayala Manorama editor Philip Mathew handed over the award to Vineeth.
Instituted to honor the best Keralite sportsperson of the previous year, the prize carried 10 sovereigns of gold and a statuette.
Kosamamttam Finance managing director Mathew K. Cherian, writer and football columnist N. S. Madhavan and dignitaries from different fields were present for the event.
"Football is what makes me happy. Since my childhood, I have always enjoyed the game. I believe that is why I’m here," said Vineeth after receiving the award.
“I did not dream of being part of some big teams when I started playing football. I just loved the game, that’s all. Fortunately, my parents were very supportive. I went to the same school where my father taught and scored about 99 percent marks. Later, I joined another school. But when I completed schooling, all that left was a football and a certificate with 1 percent mark," he said, triggering laughter from the crowd.
"I’m greatly indebted to my parents for allowing their child to chase his dreams and passion. I think every parent should do that," he said.
Vineeth, who won the hearts of football fans in state with his top-notch performance for Kerala Blasters in the third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), said though he could score goals, he was not fully satisfied with his performance.
"I don’t believe football is all about scoring goals. A good player should be able to deliver crosses and passes that others will feed on. I was not able to do that consistently. I should be thankful to all my teammates for giving me opportunities to score goals," he added.
According to N.S. Madhavan, who was the chief guest at the event, Vineeth is the best striker in Indian football on current form.
"In the last ISL, he missed the first eight matches due to club commitments. However, he made an impact immediately, scoring five goals in six ties and assisting three. The award testifies that Kerala’s football lovers have recognized his glorious achievement," he added.
The other finalists of ‘Star of 2016’ were Indian hockey team captain Olympian P. R. Sreejesh, cricketer Karun Nair, Olympian Jisna Mathew and shuttler P. C. Thulasi.
Vineeth received the highest number of votes (45.17 percent) to emerge winner in an online vote.
He finished ahead of Sreejesh (25.18%), Karun (11.70%), Thulasi (9.70%), and Jisna (8.25%).
From among those who voted for Vineeth, 10 people will be given a cash prize of Rs 10,000 via a lucky draw.