I. M. Vijayan
Award Name : Arjuna Award
Year of Award : 2003
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Trichūr, Kerala, India
Inivalappil Mani Vijayan is a former professional Indian football player. He was born on 25 April 1969 in Thrissur, Kerala, India. Playing in the striker position, he formed a successful attacking partnership with Baichung Bhutia for the Indian national team in the late nineties and early 2000s. Vijayan was crowned Indian Player of the Year in 1993, 1997 and 1999, the first player to win the award multiple times. He was also awarded the Arjuna award in 2003. As a soda bottle seller he was earning 10 paise per bottle and eventually developed a passion for football game and wanted to become a player. The DGP of Kerala, M. K. Joseph selected him for the Kerala Police when he was 17 years old and he showed brilliant performance at the Quilon Nationals 1987 playing for the Kerala Police team.
His impeccable skills and aggressive sporting style impressed everyone and in 1991 he started to play for Mohun Bagan A. C. Again he shifted to Kerala Police team in 1992 and then to Mohun Bagan. He played for JCT Mills Fagwara for three years until 1997. He also played for East Bengal Club, FC Cochin, Churchill Brothers SC, etc. His international debut was in 1989 and since then he had played in a number of trophies like Nehru Cup, Pre-Olympics, Pre-World Cup, SAAF Cup and SAF Games. He was crowned as the Indian Player of the Year in 1992, 1997 and 1999. He took part in the South Asian Football Federation Cup 1999 and scored a goal against Bhutan in 12 seconds which was the third fastest one in the history. After his retirement he started a football academy in Thrissur to train young players interested to play the game.