Football is one of the biggest sports played around different parts of the world, with increasing development and fast-spreading communication, football is making its way to the countries where it never came before. 1892 was the birth period of football when American football was split into two sports, soccer and rugby. Since then the craze for football has only increased, these sports make Billions a year around the globe. Federation Internationale de Football Association is the international federation that governs the association of football, which is also known as FIFA. Football was not so popular in India up until the last 5-6 years, people just used to play it at amateur level but with the birth of Indian Super League and domestic competitions, the craze and interest towards this sport have definitely increased among Indians. Unlike European countries, football was not a very well recognized game in India up until the birth of the Indian super league and National team’s participation in FIFA World cup qualifiers, although the game has a serious interest in the youth, Government was more focused towards other sports. With the birth of the Indian Super League and other National leagues, the people of India and the Government have begun to take the game seriously, youth, in particular, considering pursuing it as a career. This is just a start for the Indian Football revolution and in the coming years the football will get more recognition in India and will come out as a sport that is enjoyed by every Indian.
Sports like Cricket is already very popular in India and people love to play and watch cricket, cricket is one the most watched and played sports in India. But Government and other private organizations are trying to promote football in the country. Moreover, the Indian National football team has been performing incredibly magnificent at international levels and Asian games, which has also promoted the game in the country and increased the level of interest in youngsters. Here are some of the Best football players in India who have made India proud.
1. Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri is a popular Indian professional football player who was born on 3rd August 1984. Sunil Chhetri is the captain of the Indian National team as well as the captain of Bengaluru in the Indian super league. He plays from the forward position as the winger or striker and has an excellent scoring rate. He was born in Secunderabad, Bengaluru, and has also played for India U-20 in the year 2004.
His club carrier started in Mohun Bagan of the National football league in 2002 and then JCT, Chhetri played for ten different clubs in his carrier including some overseas clubs and currently holds command of the Bengaluru team. Sunil is also known as Captain Fantastic, he has scored the highest number of goals in international matches among powerful male players after Cristiano Ronaldo. Sunil Chhetri was honored with the Arjuna award in 2011, he was also the AIFF player of the year in 2007, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, and 2019.
2. Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichung Bhutia is a famous former Indian professional footballer who is considered one of the best football players in Indian football. He was born on 15th December 1976 in Tinkitam Sikkim and is nicknamed as Sikkimese Sniper. He joined the East Bengal F.C in Calcutta at the age of 16 and was later transferred to JCT mills in Phagwara, which went on to win the Indian National Football league.
Bhutia was chosen to make his International debut in the Nehru Cup after becoming the top goalscorer. Bhutia has had very limited opportunities overseas, he traveled to play Bury in Greater Manchester in 1999. It made him the second Indian footballer to play professionally in Europe after Mohammed Salim. Bhutia was a part of Indian National team from 1995 to 2011, his major Achievements are Arjuna Award 1998, Padma Shri 2008, AIFF player of the year 1995, 2008 and Asian football Hall of Fame 2014.
3. Sandesh Jhingan
Sandesh Jhingan is an Indian professional footballer who basically belongs to Chandigarh. Sandesh was born on 21st July 1993 and he plays from the position of Centre back, he received his football training at the St. Stephan’s Academy. Sandesh won the emerging player of the year award in 2014. Sandesh Jhingan made his debut for the National side in the year 2005, and made his local debut for United Sikkim in the year 2011 and made his senior professional debut in the I-League in 2012 for United Sikkim. In July 2014, he played from the side of Kerala blasters, Although Kerala didn’t win the match from that period Jhingan remained a constant presence for the Kerala Blasters throughout the 2014 season.
For his Marvelous performance, Sandesh won the “Emerging player of the year” in Indian Superleague. In September 2014, Jhingan was selected for being a part of the team in the 2014 Asian Games. Jhingan made his international debut in an opening match against the United Arab Emirates on 15 September 2014 apart from that Jhingan made his senior international debut for India against Nepal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, Jhingan scored his first international goal for India on 29 March 2016 against Turkmenistan.
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4. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Born on 3rd February 1992, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for both Bengaluru FC and the Indian National team. Gurpreet hails from Mohali Punjab and was born there, he joined the St Stephen’s Academy in the year 2000. He made his youth state-level debut in 2006 in Haldwani and made his I-league debut in 2009. In his early career, he played for East Bengal in 2010 and for Norwegian club Stabæk in 2014. On 30 June 2016, Sandhu became the first Indian to feature in a UEFA Europa League match. In 2017 Gurpreet joined Bengaluru FC and made a contract until 2023. Gurpreet has played for India U-19 in 2010 and now plays from the Indian National team as a goalkeeper. Gurpreet was honored with the Arjuna Khel Ratan award in the year 2019.
5. Jeje Lalpekhlua
Jeje Lalpekhlua Fanai was born on 7 January 1991 and hails from the North East Indian state Mizoram. Jeje is an Indian professional football player who plays from the Forward position and is the second-highest goalscorer in the Indian Superleague. Jeje was born in a family full of footballers, his father and elder brother played for the local club – The Model Sporting Club whereas his uncle represented Mizoram in the Santosh trophy. Jeje at a very early age captained the under 16 Indian sides in South Asian games and made his senior debut for the Pune FC.
He played in I-league from the side of club Pune but in 2010-11 he played from the other club known as Indian Arrows. He again joined his parent club Pune in 2011 and went on to win the FPAI Best player Award in the 2010-11 season. In 2016 Jeje played in Indian Super league from the side of Chennaiyin Fc, Jeje played for India under-23 in the year 2011 and scored his first goal in his first game, apart from this he has also played in South Asian Games and International matches.
6. Jackichand Singh
Telem Jackichand Singh is an Indian professional football player who hails from Manipur, India. Jakichand was born on 17th March 1992 in a humble family and is named Jakichand after the famous actor Jackie Chan from who he takes inspiration. Jackichand made his debut in the I-League 2nd Division in 2011, he played in the Federation Cup against Churchill Brothers and won the game by scoring in the 53rd minute. He made his I-league debut on 18 January 2014 against Shillong Lajong in the Shillong Derby in the I-league and won the game. He has played for the Pune City in the year 2015 and 2016. Jackichand plays from the side of Kerala Blasters in the Indian super league and has played for the National team in World cup qualifiers and Asian cup.
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