I. M. Vijayan
Football, Football player
Who is I. M. Vijayan?
Inivalappil Mani Vijayan is a former professional Indian football player. 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.
Vijayan started out as a seller of soda in the Thrissur Municipal Corporation Stadium, Kerala earning 10 paise a bottle. Eventually he was chosen to play for the Kerala Police club and rose to become one of the top names in domestic football. A highly aggressive player, he eventually became the highest earner in Indian club football as well as a regular in the India team. He scored one of the fastest ever international goals in a match against Bhutan in the 1999 SAF Games, when he managed to do the same in 12 seconds. Faster international goals on record include ones by Davide Gualtieri in 8 seconds and Hakan Şükür in 11 seconds. Vijayan's talents attracted interest from clubs in Malaysia and Thailand, although he spent his entire career in India until retirement. By the end of his career he had scored 40 international goals in 79 matches for India. Since retiring Vijayan has set up a football academy to train young players in his home town.