Indian football players

Indian National Football Team has made history in many ways, though not been able yet to win a FIFA World Cup or an AFC Asian Cup.  

The team falls under the All India Football Federation (AIFF), and under the global jurisdiction of FIFA. 

In 1950, India won a chance to participate in the inaugural FIFA World Cup with the invitation of Jules Rimet, the then FIFA President. 

Many of the great football players from India remain unknown even to the Indians since India has not gained popularity or the opportunity to exhibit the real talent of the football players at a global level. 

This blog discusses the top 10 Indian football players of all time and their achievements in detail.

The decline of Football in India

The popularity of Indian Cricket has paved the way for more opportunities for the Cricket team to lay their dominance in India. 

After winning the Cricket World Cup in 1983, India had given more importance to Cricket and other sports like football were not considered. 

Also, poor organizations and the players struggling to gain opportunities, have led to this worst situation. 

However, there are players of all time who have contributed the best to the industry and have tried to make football a popular sport in India. 

Let’s move further to see the best football players and everything that make them special:

10 Best Indian Football Players

  1. Sunil Chhetri 
Sunil Chhetri

About the Player

Date of Birth: August 3rd, 1984

Place of Birth: Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh

Position: Forward

Height: 5ft 7in

Team (present): Bengaluru

Sunil Chhetri is tagged as one of the top footballers of India of all time. He is the captain for ISL (Indian Super League) in Bengaluru. 

Sunil grabbed the second highest International goal score as of October 2021. He has made 131 appearances for the Indian team with 84 goals, making him the most capped player in India.

  1. P.K.Banerjee

About the Player

Date of Birth: June 23rd, 1936

Date of Death: March 20th, 2020

Place of Birth: Jalpaiguri, Bengal Presidency

Position: Striker

Height: 5ft 8+ 1/2in

P.K.Banerjee was one of the most talented Indian football players ever. He was a striker and represented the Indian national team for 45 different occasions and also made it to be the captain of the team. 

He was one of the first achievers of Arjuna Award (1961). He has also won Padma Shri in 1990. He also won the FIFA Order of Merit in 2004, the highest honor of FIFA Awards.

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  1. Subrata Pal
Subrata Pal

About the Player

Date of Birth: December 24th, 1986

Place of Birth: Sodepur, West Bengal

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 6ft 1in

Team (Present): ATK Mohun Bagan 

Subatra Pal is a renowned goalkeeper playing for ATK Mohun Bagan, ISL. He has also participated in international matches at every age.

He replaced Sandip Nandy in 2007 as #1 in the Indian Senior Team Nehru Cup. He is a renowned name to the Indian football fans— he was an active part of the Indian team in the AFC Challenge Cup of 2008. His saves in the AFC Asian Cup finals 2011 has helped India to qualify for the first time ever in 24 years. 

  1. Bhaichung Bhutia 
Bhaichung Bhutia

About the Player

Date of Birth: December 15th, 1976

Place of Birth: Tinkitam, Sikkim 

Position: Striker

Height: 5ft 8in

Bhaichung Bhutia is a renowned former striker who has played internationally on 80 occasions for India. He has been nicknamed Sikkimese Sniper because of his shooting skills. He had received many honors including the Nehru Cup, SAFF championship, LG Cup, and AFC Challenge Cup. 

He is the second most capped player in India, having 80 international caps in his name. He scored the first goal in the Nehru Cup against Uzbekistan when he was 18 years old. 

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  1. Jeje Lalpekhlua Fanai 
Jeje Lalpekhlua Fanai

About the Player

Date of Birth: January 7th, 1991

Place of Birth: Hnahthiai, Mizoram

Position: Striker

Height: 5ft 8in

He is regarded as one of the top Indian football players and the second highest goal scorer ever in the ISL history. With the skills and efforts, he has made 2015-16 FPAI Indian Player title and also became the Men’s Player of the Year award by AIFF. In AFC Asian Cup against Thailand, he scored the last goal of the match for the historic 1-4 win.

  1. Sailen Manna
Sailen Manna

About the Player

Date of Birth: September 1st, 1924

Date of Death: February 27th, 2012

Place of Birth: Howrah, Bengal Presidency

Position: Defender

Height: 182 cm

Sailen Manna is the one Indian football player and English FA named him as one of the ten best captains across the World. He has won the recognition in 1953 with the skills and success he had made.

Sailendra Nath Manna represented the Indian National team from 1948 to 1956. This defender had played for Mohun Bagan and he represented India during Asian Games and Olympics.

  1. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

About the Player

Date of Birth: February 3rd, 1992

Place of Birth: Mohali

Position: Defender

Height: 6ft 6in

Position: Goalkeeper

Team (present): ATKMB

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has made over 50 appearances for India. He is a goalkeeper for the India National Team  ISL. club Bengaluru. He has also been the fifth Indian to play for Norwegian Club in Europe. 

Sandhu was the first Indian to take part in the UEFA Europa League. He had featured India in FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and made 35th appearance for the Indian team against Oman. 

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  1. IM Vijayan
IM Vijayan

About the Player

Date of Birth: April 25th, 1969

Place of Birth: Thrissur

Height: 5ft 11in

Position: Striker

Popularly nicknamed as Kalo Harin, which means blackbuck, IM Vijayan is a former football player and an Indian actor. He captioned the national football team, and played as a striker. IM Vijayan is the first-ever player who scored a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup qualifier match.

He was crowned the award for Indian Player of the Year in 1993, 1997, and 1999 that made him the first player to win this award multiple times. He also won the Arjuna award in 2003 and made 30 international goals playing for 68 matches. 

  1. Sandesh Jhingan
Sandesh Jhingan

About the Player

Date of Birth: July 21st, 1993

Place of Birth: Chandigarh

Height: 6ft 2in

Position: Centre-back

Team (Present): ATK Mohun Bagan

Sandesh is the center-back player and has played before for Kerala Blasters with a record for the highest number of appearances for the team. He has made 42 appearances to represent India. 

He also received the recognitions like Arjuna Award in 2020 and was titled AIFF Men’s Player of the Year. He also grabbed AIFF emerging player of the year title. 

  1. Mohammed Salim
Mohammed Salim

About the Player

Date of Birth: 1904

Place of Birth: Calcutta

Position: Winger

The era of football for Mohammad Salim existed during the British Raj times. He was also a part of the popular Mohammedan SC team in 1930s. He was also the first football player to participate in European club after joining Celtic FC. He had also received honours like IFA shield and Calcutte Football League in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, and 1938.

Final Note

From 1948 to 1964 India had witnessed the best with participation in four Olympics and achieving two Asian Games Gold medals. Though Indian football has not been into a huge success across the globe, year 2022 has been quite eventful for Indian footballers. 

The national team was qualified in 2023 Asian Cup, and also Hyderabad FC grabbed the first title winning their ISL trophy. Gokulam Kerala had become the third club to get I-League twice following East Bengal and Dempo SC. 

Indian football players have been contributing so much and making efforts to take the game to a global attention. The above list is not an end of the legendary football players, we have handpicked the best among the best players for you. In the comments, let us know which football player is your favorite.


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