Are you a budding footballer? Do you have a craze for Indian football? Are you one of the blue pilgrims?
I am writing this blog to showcase the greatest Indian footballers of all time. Stay tuned to witness some of the best Indian football players in history, as I reveal the list of your favorite Indian footballers who have secured a spot in my list of top 15 Indian players of football.
Football’s rising popularity among the young generation in India has made Indian footballers inspiring figures for many aspiring players. The Indian national football team is under the administration of the All India Football Federation.
Below is a list of the 15 most famous Indian football players in India, well-known for their exceptional play, skills, moves, and records.
1. Sunil Chhetri (2002- Present)
Are you asking me who is the top scorer in Indian football? He is none other than Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the Indian football team and for team Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). Chhetri is one of the best Indian footballers of all time.
During the 2019 Asian Cup, he achieved a significant milestone by scoring twice in the opening match against Thailand (in a 4-1 victory), propelling him to become India’s all-time top scorer with an impressive tally of 67 goals for the national team. Additionally, he holds the record for being the most-capped player in the team’s history.
2. P.K. Banerjee (1954-1967)
A striker who represented the Indian football team made 45 appearances for them. In 1961, he became the first recipient of the Arjuna Award and, in 1990, he was honored with the Padma Shri. Notably, Sir Banerjee also received the FIFA Order of Merit, the highest honor bestowed by FIFA.
Quiet striking right? There’s more in the list. Keep reading!
3. Subrata Pal (2004 – Present)
Subrata Pal gained prominence as the first well-known name among Indian football fans when he featured for U-23 in pre-Olympic qualifiers, leading the team to qualify for the group stages.
Furthermore, he actively participates in international matches and also represents ATK Mohun Bagan in the ISL.
What a savior of India’s pride!
4. Bhaichung Bhutia (1993-2015)
Bhaichung, a former striker, represented India internationally and played 80 matches in total.
His nickname, “Sikkimese Sniper,” originated from his exceptional shooting skills. He earned widespread recognition as the torchbearer for Indian football on the international stage. Baichung holds a strong record of 42 successful goals!
That’s seriously dope!
5. Jeje Lalpekhlua (2008 – 2023)
Jeje earned a reputation as one of the best Indian players by securing the position of the second-top scorer in the history of the ISL.
Jeje claimed the prestigious 2015-16 FPAI Indian Player of the Year and AIFF Men’s Player of the Year awards. He, unfortunately, had to retire due to his battle with the knee injury.
6. Sailen Manna (1940-1960)
People consider Manna as one of the best all-time defenders of India the country has ever produced.
He holds the unique distinction of being the only Indian football player ever to be recognized as one of the 10 best captains in the world by the English FA.
His salutation came in 1953 when he was at the peak of his career.
7. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (2009- Present)
Gurpreet represents India in international matches and serves as a goalkeeper for Bengaluru FC, amassing over 50 appearances for the national team.
He achieved a significant feat by becoming the fifth Indian player to play in Europe, joining the Norwegian club Stabæk.
Gurpreet is the first Indian football player to participate in the UEFA Europe League.
Moment of pride isn’t it?
8. Tulsidas Balaram (1956-1962)
Tulsidas was associated with East Bengal FC and earned recognition as one of the best forwards in India.
Balaram represented India 27 times and also took on the role of coaching Kolkata’s Mayor’s XI. Unfortunately, we lost him in February 2023.
9. Sandesh Jhinghan (2011- Present)
Sandesh currently plays as a center-back for ATK Mohun Bagan, having made more than 42 appearances for Team India.
In 2020, he was honored with the Arjuna Award, and for the 2020-21 season, he was named the AIFF Men’s Player of the Year.
10. Mohammed Salim (1926-1938)
Are you aware there was a football star in action even before Indian independence?
Salim played during the British era and contributed to the renowned Mohammedan SC team in the 1930s. He is the first Indian footballer to play for a European club.
11. Telem Jackichand Singh (2014 – Present)
Telem Jackichand Singh exemplifies India’s outstanding football talent. In 2021, he garnered significant attention for his outstanding performances. His transfer from Kerala Blasters to FC Goa in the ISL has proven to be a worthy move, as he found Sergio Lobera’s football style to align perfectly with his dedication.
Moreover, he earned a place in the Indian squad, which Stephen Constantine entrusted with the responsibility during the Asian Cup.
12. Dheeraj Singh (2015 – Present)
The young and most famous football player in India. Dheeraj serves as a goalkeeper for Goa in the Indian Super League. He gained the limelight for his exceptional goalkeeping performance during the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. After the U-17 World Cup, he made a significant career move.
13. Pronay Halder (2011 – Present)
Pronay Halder, an amazing and renowned Indian football player, represents Jamshedpur in the Indian Super League. His attacking and defending skills from midfield have earned him comparisons to Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho.
People admire him for his versatile play in both defense and midfield, which he demonstrated during his 2016 Indian Super League season at Mumbai City FC.
14. Kumam Udanta Singh (2014 – Present)
Kumam Udanta Singh, an Indian professional footballer, holds the position of a primary winger for Bengaluru FC in the ISL and the India national football team. His recent performances have been commendable.
During the 2017-18 season, he contributed with 3 goals for Bengaluru FC, who were competing for the first time, leading them to become runners-up. In the 2018-19 season, he scored 5 goals and provided 4 assists.
His efforts played a pivotal role in guiding Bengaluru FC to reach the ISL final for the second consecutive time. Undoubtedly, he is an invaluable asset to his team and enjoys a prominent status as a celebrated footballer across the country.
15. Ashique Kuruniyan (2017 – Present)
Ashique Kuruniyan caught the limelight through his excellent performances for FC Pune City. He currently operates as a winger for Indian Super League club ATK Mohun Bagan and the India national team.
He showcased remarkable skills during the Intercontinental Cup, gaining valuable international gaming experience. As one of the famous Indian football players, he has made a significant impact on the sport.
Football facts you didn’t know!
Who started football in India?
– British soldiers introduced football to India in the mid-nineteenth century, and its spread can be attributed to the efforts of Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari.
When was football first played in India?
– In 1854, ‘Calcutta Club of Civilians’ and the ‘Gentlemen of Barrackpore’ organized the first football game in India. Subsequently, the first football club in India, known as ‘Calcutta FC’, was established in 1872.
Who is the highest goal scorer in football in India?
– Sunil Chhetri is India’s highest goalscorer and the highest-capped player.
What is the rank of India in FIFA football?
– India ranks 99th in the list of FIFA football.
Which is the football capital of India?
– Kolkata is known to be the Mecca(capital) of Indian football.
The Final Whistle
Indian football has seen significant growth in recent years, with a surge in domestic leagues’ popularity and the national team’s improved performance.
The future looks promising as India continues to make strides in the global football arena. I hope this blog has added to your knowledge and we all must be inspired by the Indian football national team.
Let’s have our top Indian football players in a single frame! Have a look at our Indian football team in 2023.
Written by Ashay Chandekar from Deshpee. The images have copyrights from their respective sources.