India forward Jeje Lalpekhlua said that he has taken it as a challenge after repeatedly being ignored for the prestigious Arjuna Award.

Jeje said this following a letter by Mizoram Football Association (MFA) to union sports minister Kiren Rijiju expressing their displeasure at the star footballer not considered for the honour despite having a brilliant record.

“Everything has happened for football. The guys who got the trophy are my good friends, and I am really happy for them, but when I heard the news, I was really shocked. Last year, I did not get the trophy and this year I thought my time would come. Nevertheless, I take this as a challenge,” the Mizo Sniper who recently left Chennaiyin FC was quoted as saying by The Print.

Jeje Lalpekhlua has been nominated thrice for the prestigious award in 2017, in 2019 and in 2020.

“Sometimes, it happens in life, not just in football. You have no luck on your side, sometimes you win or lose, but you can always learn from these instances. You don’t need to feel bad about the results, but work your way through it,” Jeje added.

Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga also raised the issue as he tweeted it on September 14.

“@KirenRijiju ji, due respect to past & future awardee of the prestigious #arjunaaward; I stand with the people of #Mizoram in their dreams, their contribution towards the upliftment of the #IndianFootball, the pain felt by a sidelined recognition we all yearned. #FactsMatter,” Zoramthanga tweeted with a graphics describing Jeje’s performance with other Indian footballers – Gurpeet Singh Sindhu and Sandesh Jhingan.

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Earlier, the MFA has alleged that in spite of a better record Jeje has been ignored and lesser capped with lesser performances have been honoured with Arjuna. Jeje has played 56 matches for India scoring a total of 23 goals which is just second to Sunil Chhetri in the current team.

Jeje recently announced his departure from Chennaiyin FC after playing six Indian Super League (ISL) seasons with the Chennai-based team.

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