Football is still a growing sport in India, with it still finding it’s feet among the public, though it has grown exponentially in recent times. The emergence of the Indian Super League (ISL) has been a boon for the sport in the country, while the country has also produced superstars and here, we take a look at some of them.
1. Sunil Chhetri – 72 goals
Arguably the biggest footballing superstar to come from India, Sunil Chhetri is an inspiration for young footballers in the country and has been brilliant in front of goal. He has already netted 72 goals in 115 games and will definitely add more to his tally in the near future.
2. Bhaichung Bhutia – 27 goals
Described by IM Vijayan as “Gods gift to Indian Football”, Bhaichung Bhutia can be described as India’s first football superstar. The 44-year-old won numerous honours during his career including two AIFF Player of the Year awards, the 1998 Arjuna Award and 2008 Padma Shri.
3. IM Vijayan – 30 goals
A footballing legend, IM Vijayan is one of the finest footballers to come from India and he was a prolific striker throughout his career as seen by the 30 goals he scored in 68 games. The 51-year-old won the AIFF Player of the Year award thrice, while also being bestowed with the Arjuna Award in 2003.
4. Pradip Kumar Banerjee – 19 goals
PK Banerjee, a forward who predominantly down the right wing, was an integral part of India’s Gold Medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games and even scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta.
Banerjee is a two-time Olympian. At 1956 Melbourne, he played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals where India eventually finished fourth. Later, he captained the national team in the 1960 Rome Olympics and scored the equaliser against France to help India register a 1-1 draw. That’s the last point India earned in Olympics till date.
He was also part of three consecutive editions of the Asian Games – the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, and the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, and holds the record of scoring maximum – six goals – in Asian Games for India. In 1962, India won the Asian Games gold as mentioned above.