Indian Sportsperson: Top 20 Footballers in India
6 months ago
The origin of football in India is traced back to the mid-nineteenth century when the sport was introduced by British soldiers. Initially, games were played between army teams. However, clubs were soon founded around the country. Although it was a rugby club, Calcutta FC became the first football club in India around 1894. Soon clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal started forming which are to date the biggest clubs in India and most of the top players played there. During the 1890s, various Tournaments like Gladstone Cup, Cooch Behar Cup, and Trades Cup were started and the Durand Cup and IFA Sheild started around the 1900s. The All India Football Federation, which runs the football sport in India, was formed in 1937 but took over a decade to induce affiliated with FIFA. India also insisted on playing barefoot when other nations were putting their boots on.
Here is a list of the top players who have played for India.
1. Sunil Chetri
He is the current poster boy of the Indian footballing community and the second-highest active goal-scorer of International Football with 72 goals just behind Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the third Indian to have been signed for a club abroad. On his 34th birthday, the AFC(Asian Football Confederations) announced him as an Asian Icon. He is nicknamed “Captain Fantastico” due to his goal-scoring exploits for the country.
2. Baichung Bhutia
He is the former captain of the Indian football team and one of the most influential players in the history of Indian football. Bhutia is taken into account as the torchbearer of Indian football within the international arena. He’s often nicknamed as the Sikkimese Sniper, all thanks to his shooting skills in football. When he joined the English club Bury in 1999, he became the primary Indian footballer to sign a contract with an ECU club and only the second to play professionally in Europe, after Mohammed Salim.
Inivalappil Mani Vijayan is a former Indian Captain and an Arjuna award winner. He was a lethal striker and formed a great partnership with Baichung Bhutia in the late nineties and the early 2000s. He is also a multiple-time winner of the AIFF player of the year.
Pradip Kumar Banerjee was a former Indian striker and a former coach of the Indian team. He represented India in 45 matches and scored 15 goals. He was one in all the primary recipients of the Arjuna Award when the awards were instituted in 1961. He was given the FIFA order of merit in the year 2004. He is said to be the pinnacle of the golden generation of Indian football from the 1950s to the mid-1960s along with Chuni Goswami.
5. Chuni Goswami
Chuni Goswami or Subimal Goswami was a former Indian striker or a winger, who played in the golden period of Indian Football from the 1950s to the mid-1960s. He’s a former Sheriff of Kolkata. Popularly referred to as Chuni Goswami, he scored nine goals in 30 international appearances. He also led the team to realize the laurel wreath at the 1962 Asian Games and earn the runners-up position at the 1964 AFC Asian Cup.
6. Sailen Manna
Sailen Manna is one of the most effective defenders India has ever produced. He has represented and did captaincy of India in numerous international competitions including the Olympics and Asian Games. He also holds a record of playing for Mohun Bagan, one in all the simplest clubs in India, for an eternal period of 19 years. He was also a member of the golden generation of Indian Football.
7. Krishanu Dey
He was an attacking midfielder, playing for East Bengal as well as the Indian national team. Popularly dubbed as the “Indian Maradona” he had great skills with the ball and had an excellent eye for a pass.
8. Subrata Pal
Subrata is an India Goalkeeper and only the fourth Indian to play in a foreign league when he signed a contract for FC Vestsjaelland of Denmark and the first Indian goalkeeper to do so.
9. Peter Thangaraj
He was the goalkeeper of the side during the 1950s and the 1960s and participated in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and the 1960 Rome Olympics as well as the 1964 Asian Games. He was voted the best goalkeeper from Asia in the year 1958.
10. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
He is the current goalkeeper of the Indian national team and has also captained the team on quite a few occasions. He is the one the fifth Indian to play in a league abroad and the first Indian to play in the Europa League when he started for his Norwegian club Stabaek on 30th June 2016 in the first qualifying round.
11. Shabbir Ali
He was the most talented and gifted player of the 1970s and 1980s and one of the finest players India has ever got. He got famous at a very young age. This was because he marshaled his Indian Team to a win in the Asian Youth Championship in 1974 alongside Iran. Due to his heroics, he was congratulated by then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.
12. Mohammed Salim
He was the first Indian to play for a European team when he joined Scottish giants Celtic in the year 1936. A predominant right-winger, he was also the part of the Successful Mohammedan FC which won consecutive 5 Calcutta League titles in the 1930s.
13. Neville D’Souza
He is registered as the first Asian to score a hattrick in the Olympic games when he netted one in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics against the host nation Australia. He is only Indian to finished as top-scorer in an international event with 4 goals in the 1956 Olympics.
14. Clifford Miranda
He is an attacking midfielder and one of the most creative players of the 2000s. he played for Dempo where he helped the club secure 5 domestic titles and 4 national cups. He also represented India helping them to win the AFC challenge cup in 2008.
15. Climax Lawrence
He is the joint third most capped Indian for the national team. He plays as a midfielder. He is credited for scoring the winner in the AFC challenge cup which helped India qualify for the AFC championships.
16. Sandesh Jhingan
He is the current backbone of the Indian Defence. A tall and agile defender who has a wide passing range and an aerial threat in the box. He is a record holder of caps for Kerela Blaster and in his honor, the number 21 jersey has been permanently retired by them when he parted ways with them this year.
17. Jeje Lalpekhlua
He is a player of the India national squad. He is the second-highest Indian goal scorer within the Indian Super League since its inception, and he’s the record highest goal scorer for Chennaiyin FC. In 2015, he won the I-league with Mohun Bagan and therefore the Indian Super League with Chennaiyin, and was subsequently named the FPAI athlete of the Year.
18. Gourmangi Singh
He is a former center-back who played primarily for Dempo and the Churchill Brothers. He is considered to be one of the most robust defenders India has ever produced and was an aerial threat and rock at the defense. He is also the fourth most-capped Indian at the national level.
19. Syed Rahim Nabi
He is a product of the Tata Football academy who primarily plays as a wing-back but can also play as a winger if needed. He is one of the most versatile players who can play anywhere across the field if needed barring the goalkeeping spot.
20. Mehtab Hossain
He played with East Bengal for ten seasons, winning the Federation Cup 3 times. He also managed to achieve 31 caps for the India national team between 2005 to 2014, scoring twice for the country.2019 started his coaching career as a manager at Southern Samity in 2019-20 Calcutta Premier Division. He mainly played as a defensive midfielder.