Cricket is obviously one of the most popular sports in
The sport that comes after cricket as the second most popular game is football.
has so far produced many legendary football players and in future it will produce
a lot. Once there was a golden age (1950’s and 1960’s) for the Indian football
team. Now, due to lack of investment and proper planning, the standard of
Indian football has decreased. It is thought that the increasing popularity of
cricket has become the only reason of its ignorance. In spite of many
limitations, better future of Indian football is much expected. Hope that they
will play in the FIFA World Cup and resurrect the dying game. India
Baichung Bhutia: Baichung Bhutia is undeniably one of the most famous football players of
. He has a very good skill in
shooting the football. That is why, the Sikkim-born striker is called the
Sikkimese Sniper. To get to know more about his skill in football, there can be
mentioned I. M. Vijayan’s quotation which described Bhutia as “God's gift to
Indian football”. India
In 1999, he joined an English club, Bury, and became the first Indian footballer to sign a contract with a European club. Not only that but also he became the second Indian footballer to play professionally in
after Mohammed Salim. He also played for Malaysian football club, Perak FA, on
a short loan basis.
He has very good record for both club and national team. Appearing in 107 matches for
national football team, he made a record of 43 goals. He announced his
retirement from international football in August 2011. On 10 January 2012, he
played against Bayern Munich at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, India which was his farewell match. Delhi
Sunil Chhetri: If there is anyone who can overcome Baichung Bhutia in fame and record then he is Sunil Chhetri. The 29-year-old
born striker has so far scored 39 goals appearing in 71 matches. It is needless
to say that if he is in good form then very soon he is going to make a surpass
Bhutia’s goal record. India
After signing with an
football club, Kansas City Wizards, of Major League Soccer in 2010, he became
the third player from the subcontinent to go abroad. It was the worst year of
his career as his contract with the American club did not last long and soon he
returned to USA
and joined Chirag United to play in the I-League. India
In 2012, he signed a contract with a Portuguese multi-sports club, Sporting Clube de Portugal, which is based in
capital city of
and so far made his appearance in three matches for them. Currently he is
playing for Bengaluru FC in I-League. Lisbon
He earned his name and fame for himself showing his performance in the national football team. Because of his contribution,
could win the 2007 Nehru Cup, 2009 Nehru Cup, the 2012 Nehru Cup as well as the
2011 SAFF Championship. India
In 2007 and 2011, he was named AIFF Player of the Year.
Peter Thangaraj: Legendary player, Peter Thangaraj, who died at the age of 72 on 24 November 2008, was called towering custodian of the Indian football team because of his tall height and thin figure. He started playing for his country in 1954 and continued till 1968. For his contribution in the Indian football team, he was given Arjuna Award in 1968. He played for Mohun Bagan,
and Mohammedan Sporting clubs.
Interesting thing is that he started playing as a center-forward when he joined Madras Regimental Centre (MRC) in 1953, but he later took goalkeeping and got success. Being influenced by Russian great Lev Yashin, he picked up his style of throwing. Because of his performance under the goal bar, he was named the Best Goalkeeper of Asia in 1958.
Sailendra Nath Manna: He is commonly known as Sailen Manna to his fans. The former captain of Indian football team is considered as one of the best defenders to have been produced by
so far. He got name and fame
for his powerful free-kicks. India
In 2000, All India Football Federation paid him honor giving the ‘Footballer of the Millennium’ award. Even, he was awarded the Padmashree in 1971 for his contribution to Indian football.
He started played for Mohun Bagan since 1942 and made a record of playing for this reputed football club for 19 years continuously till his retirement in 1960. That is why, he was given ‘Mohun Bagan Ratna’ in 2001.
He was part of the Indian football team for the 1948 London Olympics, where they were handed a defeat by
margin of 1-2. As a captain, he was successful because under his leadership, France won the
Gold Medal in the 1951 Asian Games and also won the Quadrangular Tournament for
four successive years from 1952 to 1956. In 1953, he became the only Asian
footballer to have been selected in the list of the 10 best captains of the world
by the English Football Association. India
He breathed his last on 27 February 2012 aged 87.
Jarnail Singh Dhillon: Jarnail Singh Dhillon is another gifted player to Indian football. Because of his defensive skill, he is still considered as one of the most outstanding defenders of
. He was
also one of the few players who played an important role in shaping the fate of
the country’s football during the 1950’s and 1960’s. India
He started playing at the age of 16 years for the
, Mahilpur of
Punjab in the year 1952. After playing four years there, he then played for the
Khalsa Sporting club for the year 1956-57. Then, he moved to Rajasthan Club for
the year 1957-58. He played for Mohun Bagan for a period of 10 years from 1958
to 1968. Khalsa
He had many notable contributions behind the successes of Indian football. His performance in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games will be remembered with pride and honor. In this tournament, Jarnail Singh, played with a serious head injury that required six stitches. The interesting thing is that he played as a forward which was his new role and scored essential goals in the semi-final and final to help India obtained its maiden Asiad football gold.
He showed his power and skill in defense in the 1964 Asia Cup at Tel Aviv where
the runner-up. He became the only Indian to lead the Asian All Star Football
team. He was given the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1964. India
He died at the age of 64 due to an asthmatic disorder in 2000.
Gostha Pal: This legendary player is also regarded as one of the most famous players in the history of Indian football. Gostha Pal became well known as a defender who used to play in barefoot. Bangladeshi origin Gostha Pal was one of the best defenders of his time in Indian football. Because of his defensive capabilities, he was compared with the
Great Wall of China. He played from the Right Back
He started his career as a footballer at the age of 11 after joining Kumartuli Club of
in the year 1907 and played six
years for the club. He caught the attention of Kalicharan Mitra popularly known
as “Kali Mittir” who helped him joining the Mohun Bagan club at the age of
sixteen in the year 1912. In 1921, he was given the captaincy of the club and
led the club for the next five years. He was also selected as the captain of
the Indian football team in 1924. Calcutta
He played for Mohun Bagan for 23 years from 1912 to 1936. Because of his contribution to the club he was presented the “Mohun Bagan Ratna” in 2004 and became the fourth player to receive this honor. He took retirement in 1935. He was also the first player to have received the ‘Padma Shri’ award on April 27, 1962. To give him honor, a statue statue of him was placed in front of
in Kolkata. Eden Gardens
P K Banerjee: He is another player who is thought to be one of the all time best football players of
. There is no confusion about greatness.
If readers look at his record then they will accept him as great player without
any argument. Appearing in 84 matches for his country, he scored 65 goals. He
played from the striker position. India
The greatest achievement in his career is perhaps that FIFA named him Indian Footballer of the 20th century. He became the first-ever footballer to receive the Arjuna Award in 1961. He also received the prestigious Padma Shri award in 1990. In 2004, he was given the ‘FIFA Centennial Order of Merit’ which is the highest award from FIFA.
P K Banerjee played for Mohun Bagan and Eastern Railway clubs. However, he started playing for the Indian football team in the 1955 Quadrangular tournament in Dhaka, East Pakistan which is now the capital of
at the age of 19. He
then represented his country in three Asian Games, two Olympics, and three
Merdeka Cup tournaments. Bangladesh
He took retirement in 1967.
Subimal Chuni Goswami: Subimal Chuni Goswami who is generally known as Chuni Goswami is different compared to other players of this list. He is a versatile genius. He was an Indian international footballer as well as first-class cricketer.
He has a record of playing for only club, Mohun Bagan. When he joined the Mohun Bagan Junior Team in 1946, he was just an eight-year-old boy. In 1954, he was then selected in the Mohun Bagan senior team and continued playing for the club till his retirement in 1968.
Besides playing football, he was also well known as a first-class cricketer. He made his first-class cricket debut for
Bengal in Ranji Trophy in
He achieved many awards because of his services to the game. He was given the Best Striker Award of Asia in 1963, the Arjuna Award in 1963, the Padma Shri 1983, the Padmashree in 1983 and the Mohun Bagan Ratna in 2005.
I. M. Vijayan: He is recognized as one of the best football players of
In the late nineties and early twentieth, this striker along with Baichung
Bhutia made a successful partnership for the Indian football team. Scoring a
goal in 12 seconds against India
in the 1999 SAF Games, he became the third player to score a faster
international goal after Davide Gualtieri and Hakan Şükür who scored goals in 8
and 11 seconds respectively. Bhutan
After beginning his career as a footballer in 1987, Vijayan played in most of the clubs in
Making his international debut for India two years after in 1989, he
appeared in 79 matches where he scored 40 goals. Showing his brilliant
performance in the domestic arena, he rose to become the highest earner in
Indian club football. India
He came from a very poor family and used to sell soda bottles in the Thrissur Municipal Stadium to support his family financially. However, his life has changed after being selected by M.K. Joseph, who was the then DGP of Kerala, for the Kerala Police at the age of 17 years.
Because of his performance, he was named ‘Indian Player of the Year’ thrice in 1993, 1997 and 1999 and became the first player to have won the award multiple times. He also became the first football player from Kerala to win an Arjuna Award in 2003. He retired from football after the Afro-Asian Games 2003.
The interesting thing is that he also acted in Jayraj-directed award winning film “Santham”.
: He is an Indian professional football player playing
in the attacking midfielder position. As a player, he is known as a fierce
attacking midfielder, but outside the field, he is considered to be very humble
and patient player because he was never seen complaining about Coaches. Lawrence
Since making his international debut for the Indian football team in 2002, Climax Lawrence has become a regular member of the national team. So far he has representedHe will be remembered for his goal that he made in the 91st minute against
international matches where he scored 2 goals only. However, he announced his
retirement from national team on 1 February 2012. In the I-league, he plays for