Well-wishers and lovers of Indian football will regard Inivalappil Mani Vijayan as a cult figure. The aggression and the striking precision gleaned him praise while forming a piercing, fearsome attacking partnership with Bhaichung Bhutia. Such was his ability that at the zenith of his career, he achieved the award for Player of the year thrice - in 1993, 1997 and 1999.
Now at the age of 44, Vijayan has spread hope to those wishing to see him one more time in action by stating that he was ready to come out of retirement. While many in the footballing guild of India consider this a shock, the former India international has readied himself for a Durand Cup run out later this year, with him yearning to play in a yellow Kerala Police jersey.
“Who said I've retired? I'm now employed with Kerala Police (as circle inspector) and still playing for them. They want to do well in the Durand Cup and have asked me to join them as a player. I've accepted this challenge," said an excited Vijayan to The Times of India.
An important point to note is that, though Vijayan has played in tournaments held in Chennai and Trivandrum, he has yet to face stiff I-League opposition, an encounter he is sure to relish. He has constantly iterated that he hadn’t pronounced his retirement from the game formally.
Though some atoned the turnaround in Vijayan’s decision to step away from a football playing career as a direct result of the lucrative IPL-like tournament proposed by IMG-Reliance, who are the commercial and marketting partners of the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF), Vijayan himself has quelled all queries by insisting, “Nobody has approached me in this regard. But who knows," keeping the door ajar.
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