The All India Football Federation (AIFF) recommends IM Vijayan for the country's fourth-highest civilian award – the Padma Shri.
Hailing from Thrissur, Vijayan was a gifted striker which catapulted him to stardom. He started off at the very bottom, selling soda and cigarettes during football games in Thrissur's Corporation stadium.
The former striker started his career at the age of 17 with the Kerala Police Football Club. He went on to play for clubs like Mohun Bagan, FC Kochin, JCT Phagwara, Churchill Brothers, and East Bengal. At one point, he was the highest-paid footballer in the country. He led JCT Phagwara to the inaugural National Football League title.
He made his debut in international football in the year 1989 and went on to make 66 appearances for India. During this period he scored around 40 goals. His most productive season arrived in 1999 when he scored 10 goals in 13 matches for the national team.
He scored one of the fastest international goals in history when he hit the back of the net after 12 seconds against Bhutan during the South Asian Football Federation Cup. In the 1999 South Asian Games he netted a hat-trick against Pakistan. He retired playing for the Red and Golds in 2006.
Vijayan was named AIFF's Player of the Year on three occassions- 1992, 1997, 2000. Whereas, he received the Arjuna award in 2003. His poaching skills were second to none during his playing days and it will be fitting to honour him with the Padma Shri award for his contribution to Indian football.