Clifford honoured with Dilip Sardesai Award



By Navin Peter

Aug 29: Dempo SC’s veteran midfielder Clifford Rayes Miranda was honoured with Dilip Sardesai Award for sports excellence for the year 2013-14.  The 31-year old, who has been playing for Dempo for last 14 years, was felicitated by Deputy Chief Minister Franscis D’Souza. The award comprises Rs 2 lakh in cash and a certificate.

After starting his career with the Salcete FC, a team renowned in south Goa for being a nursery of young players, Clifford’s movements were restricted to one club in the Indian footballing circles, Dempo FC.

Even though he moved to the prestigious TATA Football Academy (TFA) in Jamshedpur where he honed his football skills for four years, his return to Goa was never a surprise to any of the critics in Indian football. Clifford was the only TFA graduate from his batch to sign a professional contract when he signed for DempoSC, a second division club in 2000. Since then, there has been no looking back for the Indian winger who helped Dempo SC lift the national League title five times and the Federation Cup in 2004. He was also part of the team that played the AFC Cup semi-finals in 2008.

His service to the national team too has been noteworthy. Since his debut against arch-rivals Pakistan in 2004, the 30-year-old Goan has been an integral part of the national outfit. During the Bob Houghton era, Clifford became a regular member of his team due to his ability to dribble and deliver deadly crosses from the left side of the field.

Silverware too has never eluded the winger on the national scene. He was a part of the Nehru Cup winning squads of 2007 and 2009 and helped Baichung Bhutia, the then captain of the Indian team, lift the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008. He was also a member of the India team that participated in the Asia Cup 2011 in Qatar.

Clifford also represented the state in Santosh Trophy Championship in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006 and was part of the winning squad in 2005 and runners-up in 2001.

The award, which was instituted as a tribute to the legendary cricketer Dilip Sardesai,  is given to a sportsperson from the state who has the highest achievement at any international event, like Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and others, in year preceding the award year.