Football has always played second fiddle to cricket in India. However, the creation of the Indian Super League aimed to rectify that. Run in a similar fashion to the popular IPL cricket tournament, the Indian Super League aimed to create franchises that fans could get behind whilst displaying local and international superstars.
It has worked to a certain degree with some famous legends making cameo appearances to get the league started before growing into the leading football competition in the subcontinent. But who are the greatest players to have featured in the Indian Super League?
Who are the 5 best players in Indian Super League history?
When players can’t find success at home, they venture overseas looking to find a place where they can flourish. For Spanish defender Tiri, that meant leaving the reserves of Atletico Madrid and heading halfway across the world to India. Primarily featuring for ATK and Jamshedpur, Tiri has become a much loved figure in the Indian Super League.
His determined nature and technical skillset have made him a leading defender in the league and allowed him to be a key part of ATK’s 2016 Super League title campaign. With over 93 appearances in the tournament too, he is the most capped foreigner in the league’s short history.
Perhaps the greatest Indian footballer of all time, it’s no shock to see that Sunil Chhetri tops many lists within the short history of the Indian Super League. A predator in the box with deadly finishing and pace to burn, Chhetri skillset has left many defences in his wake.
The striker has featured almost exclusively for Bengaluru FC notching up an excellent record of 47 goals in 93 games – the second highest in league history. His form helped him earn the Hero of the Super League Award in 2018 and also claim the Indian Player of the Year award in 2018. It’s the feather in the cap for a glittering domestic career for an underrated footballing superstar.
In the prime of his career, Iain Hume was an excellent striker regularly bagging goals for sides within the English Championship. A horrific injury in 2008 saw the Canadian striker needing treatment for life-threatening injuries and saw his career almost end prematurely. After a long road to recovery, Hume got back into football and experienced his renaissance when moving to India after his time in England.
Hume had fully regained his goal scoring touch and was a leading threat for Atletico Kolkata and the Kerala Blasters. His best form was in 2015 scoring 11 goals in 16 games in a season where he was deemed Indian Super League Fittest Player. A great feat for someone who almost lost his life just a few years prior.
When you mention Pacific Island nations in football, most people think of teams that get annihilated by professional outfits. Fiji’s Roy Krishna proved that stars can emerge from even the most unexpected of regions. Having gained recognition for his time with Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League, Krishna moved to the Indian Super League to show his true potential. With ATK Mohun Bagan, he has done just that.
His pace and trickery has outwitted defences season after season making him one of the most influential players in the league. The Fijian superstar won the league’s Golden Boot in both 2019 and 2020 proving that he is the real deal. It is a real feather in the cap of a player who is proving to be the poster boy for football in an entire region.
Out of all the imports that have appeared in the Indian Super League, no-one has been as more impactful as Coro. The Spanish striker was a journeyman across Spain’s top tier leagues but his time in India has turned him into a superstar. His poise and accuracy have made him a perennial goal threat wherever he has played.
His best form came with Goa in the 2017/18 season where he scored 18 goals in 20 games – a season-topping feat for that season. Having hit double figures in the next two campaigns, he has scored a total of 48 goals in 57 games in the league – a record that has yet to be beaten. It is an amazing feat for someone who failed to find success until the twilight of his career.
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