Inivalappil Mani Vijayan is one of the leading Indian football players of the modern times.
Vijayan started out as a seller of soda bottles in the Trichur Municipal Stadium, Kerala, earning 10 paise (0.02 Cents) 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.
Amongst his achievements in the game, Vijayan was crowned the Indian Player of the Year in 1992, 1997 and 1999. He also represented the victorious Indian team in the 1999 South Asian Football Federation Cup and scored the fastest international goal in history during the tournament, hitting the net against Bhutan after only 12 seconds.
Vijayan's talents attracted interest from clubs in Malaysia and Thailand, although he spent his entire career in India until retirement. Since retirement, Vijayan has set up a football academy to train young players in his home town.
Other Than Football
The unmatching story of Vijayan translated into celluloid in 1999. The film, Kalo Harin, was directed by Cherian Joseph. Other members of the team were A. N. Raveendra Das, N. P. Chandrasekharan (Script), N. P. Chandrasekharan (Lyrics), K. Raghavan Master (Music) and P. J. Cherian (Cinematography).
This film finds the life of Vijayan as the struggle for existence and expression by a poor Dalit in modern India. This film won the National Award and the John Abraham Award in 1999. It also attracted mass appeal in Kerala, the home state of Vijayan at that time.
Even though a short non-feature film, it was exhibited in local theaters through ticket selling. That was a new episode in the history of Malayalam Film Industry. And, the songs of this film, with their folk touch and Dalit vigour, also became hits then.
After retirement, Vijayan acted as the leading character in the internationally acclaimed Indian film "Shantham" (Peace), which won the national award for best film, playing a young man who kills his friend and then is tormented by remorse. He is currently building a reputation for his character roles in Malayalam movies. He is also a member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
He played a role in the Tamil film, Thimiru.