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Top 7 Indian Footballers of All Time

List of greatest Indian footballers of all time

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Football is not as popular as cricket in India but the rise of this sport is certainly happening and we are not far away from the time when football will become a major sport in India. Current Indian captain Sunil Chhetri has become a huge brand ambassador of football in India. More and more sports enthusiastic people are getting to know about football and trying out the sport. People who participate in football on a competitive level in India are also increasing and with a huge population that is quite young, India will certainly rise in the ranks of football. This article covers some of the best Indian footballers of all time.

7 Best Indian Footballers of All Time

1- Sunil Chhetri

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Sunil Chhetri born 3 August 1984 plays as a forward and captains both Indian Super League club Bengaluru FC and the India national team. He is recognised for his goal scoring abilities and link-up play. Sunil Chhetri is the third highest international goal scorer only behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. He is also the most capped Indian footballer of all time. Almost all of the football fans agree that Sunil Chhetri is the greatest Indian footballer of all time.

2- Baichung Bhutia

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Born on December 15, 1976, Baichung Bhutia was a renowned Indian former professional footballer known for his role as a striker. Regarded as a symbol of Indian football on the global stage, he earned the nickname “Sikkimese Sniper” due to his exceptional shooting abilities in football. I. M. Vijayan, a three-time Indian Player of the Year, once referred to Bhutia as “God’s gift to Indian football.” Before Chhetri came along he was the best Indian footballer of all time.

3- I.M. Vijayan

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Inivalappil Mani Vijayan, born on April 25, 1969, and affectionately known as “Kalo Harin” or Blackbuck, is a former professional football player who had the honor of captaining the India national football team. His position on the field was as a striker, and he notably forged a highly successful attacking partnership with Bhaichung Bhutia during the late nineties and early 2000s. Vijayan achieved the distinction of being crowned Indian Player of the Year in 1993, 1997, and 1999, becoming the first player to win this award multiple times. Furthermore, he received the Arjuna Award in 2003.

4- PK Banerjee

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Pradip Kumar Banerjee, born on June 23, 1936, and sadly passing away on March 20, 2020, was a distinguished Indian professional footballer renowned for his role as a striker in the India national football team. Notably, he served as the captain of the national team and later assumed the role of the team’s coach. Banerjee’s contributions to Indian football include representing the country in 45 official matches and scoring 15 official goals.

His accomplishments were further recognized through several prestigious awards. He was among the inaugural recipients of the Arjuna Award in 1961, a recognition that continues to stand as a testament to his excellence. In 1990, he was honored with the Padma Shri, a significant national award. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) named him the Indian Footballer of the 20th century, underscoring his profound impact on the sport. In 2004, Banerjee received the FIFA Order of Merit, the highest distinction bestowed by FIFA. He is surely one of the best Indian footballers of all time.

5- Chuni Goswami

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Subimal “Chuni” Goswami, born on January 15, 1938, and passing away on April 30, 2020, was a multi-talented Indian sportsman, excelling in both football and cricket. In the realm of football, he exhibited his skills as a striker or winger and had the distinction of captaining both the renowned Mohun Bagan club and the India national team. Notably, he also held the title of Sheriff of Kolkata.

Goswami’s international football career saw him score nine goals in 30 appearances. He was part of the Indian team at the 1960 Summer Olympics and played a pivotal role in leading the squad to secure the gold medal at the 1962 Asian Games. Additionally, he guided the team to the runners-up position at the 1964 AFC Asian Cup. His contributions to Indian sports were truly remarkable. Definitely, Goswami is among the greatest Indian footballers of all time.

6- Shabbir Ali

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Shabbir Ali, born on January 26, 1956, is an Indian football manager and former player of distinction. His illustrious career in the sport was honored with the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award in 2011, the highest accolade for lifetime achievement in Indian sports, conferred by the Government of India. Notably, he holds the distinction of being the first footballer to receive the Dhyan Chand Award.

One of the pinnacle moments in his career occurred during the 1976 Merdeka International Football Tournament in Kuala Lumpur, where he achieved a remarkable feat by scoring a hat-trick against Indonesia in the first 35 minutes of the game. Among Indian footballers who have accomplished a hat-trick, Shabbir Ali’s achievement remains the fastest. He is surely one of the best Indian footballers of all time.

He also represented India in the 1976 Jasson Cup, which took place in Afghanistan. During this time, the Indian team was under the management of Jarnail Singh. Shabbir Ali’s international career included 66 matches for India, during which he scored 23 goals from 1974 to 1984. His impressive strike rate per match established him as one of the leading goal scorers in Indian football.

7- Inder Singh

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Inder Singh, born on December 23, 1943, is a former Indian football player who also served as a captain, manager, and administrator in the sport. His playing career saw him represent Leaders Club of Jalandhar, JCT Mills, and the India national team, primarily in the forward position.

In 1962, he initiated his senior professional career with Leaders Club, and later, in 1974, he transitioned to JCT Mills. A noteworthy achievement came during his participation with the Punjab team in the Santosh Trophy in the 1974–75 season, where he concluded with a remarkable 23 goals, a record that remains unbroken to this day.

His exceptional talent earned him a place in the AFC Asian All Stars team in 1968. Inder Singh ultimately retired from playing in 1985, leaving a lasting legacy in Indian football.

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