It is a matter of "just pure happiness" for being chosen to receive the prestigious Padma Shri award, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has said.
"At the moment, it is just pure happiness. It hasn't sunk in as yet. I need some time to feel it. I need some time to understand what the recognition actually means," AIFF quoted Chhetri, as saying.
"Seeing people around me being happy makes me happier. The buzz around has been so wonderful. I feel blessed to be surrounded with people who find more happiness in my achievements," he said.
"People around me have been jumping with joy. Looking back, this wouldn't have been possible without the help of so many people," added Chhetri.
The striker, who has the highest number of international goals for India to his credit, dedicated the award to his family, football fraternity, teammates and fans around the world.
"My mom and dad stay on the top of that list. We owe it all to our parents. My wife Sonam has always been an inspiration. This is also for her as much it is for my sister Bandana, and my two brothers-Sonu and Kunaal," Chhetri said.
"I also dedicate it to the football fraternity, my teammates, the fans who have been a pillar of strength all throughout my career," he said.
When asked if the honour will change him as a player, the footballer said: "As a player, I need to keep working hard. There's no alternative to that. No award can make you a better player unless you strive to be one."
"But yeah, this is an added motivation for me. This award will surely spur me on, to maybe, be the hungrier, fittest and the sharpest among all in my team," he said.
Chhetri is the sixth Indian footballer after late Gostho Paul, late Sailen Manna, PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, and Bhaichung Bhutia to be chosen for the prestigious award.