The inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) is going to kick off on 12th October. This tournament, the brainchild of IMG-Reliance, is expected to revolutionize Indian Football. ISL has already connected several big names from various industries to Indian Football. From business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani, Kalanithi Maran, Sanjiv Goenka, Venugopal Dhoot to leading names in the Indian entertainment industry like Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, John Abhaham and Sports icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, all have been connected to Indian football by ISL. Apart from publicity these stars have also brought a much needed flow of cash to Indian football. Here are 5 top foreigners who can actually improve the profile of the ISL in the international football circuit.
Mark Van Bommel
Mark Van Bommel is a legend in Dutch football. Mark played a key role in steering the Netherlands national team, through to the finals of the world cup in 2010. He played as a defensive midfielder and has been described as “a tackling machine and an expert ball winner” in his FIFA World Cup profile. Mark also possessed good creativity and also had a habit of scoring on occasions. Mark has had an illustrious club career. He has won 8 national championship titles in 4 different nations (4 with PSV in Netherlands, 2 with Bayern Munich in Germany, 1 with Barcelona in Spain and 1 with AC Milan in Italy). He won the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona in 2005-06 season and finished runners up in that tournament in 2010 with Bayern. He has a very unique achievement. Mark is Bayern Munich’s first non-German captain. He is currently 37 years old and he retired from professional football recently on 12th May, 2013. Mark has a good global fan following. He is also an able leader and will thus be a great mentor for young Indian players. Last, but not the least, Mark also has experience of playing in India. He led the Bayern Munich side against Mohun Bagan in May 2008, in Oliver Kahn’s farewell match.
Anderson Luis de Souza, popularly known as Deco, is another great player, who bid adieu to professional football in 2013. Though a Brazilian by birth Deco failed to make it to the Brazilian national team, which had other great attacking midfielders like Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Juninho. Deco got Portuguese nationality in 2002 and made his debut for the Portuguese national team in the following year. He represented Portugal in 2 Euro Cups and 2 World Cups. Deco was a part of the Portugal team which reached the final of the Euro Cup in 2004, before losing to Greece in the final. Deco was also a key member of the Portuguese team which reached the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup. Deco’s club career is also glorious. He has accomplished a rare achievement of winning the UEFA Champions League with two different clubs (FC Porto in 2004 and FC Barcelona in 2006). Deco was adjudged the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year and the UEFA Best Midfielder in 2004. Deco is currently 36 years old and he retired almost a year ago on 26th August 2013. The midfield maestro will still be able to inspire Indian Football with his brilliant skills and magnificent creativity. Deco’s international popularity will also help improve public interest in Indian Football.
In May 2012, a survey across 39 nations, by a leading international market research agency, showed that Manchester United had approximately over 659 million international followers, which made it the most popular club in the world. Manchester United also has a huge number of followers in India. What better way to attract those numerous Manchester United fans, than to sign this Manchester United legend? Paul Scholes has won over 700 caps for Manchester United, the 3rd highest by any player for the club. He has won 11 Premiere League titles, 3 FA Cup titles and 2 UEFA Champions League titles for the red devils. Scholes has played 66 matches for the English national team, including 2 World Cups (1998, 2002) and 2 Euro Cups (2000, 2004). Paul Scholes decided to hang his boots in May 2013. He has had a year’s rest and might still have enough in him to do well in the 3 month long ISL.
Alessandro Nesta is undoubtedly one of the best defenders of the last decade. In his prime, Nesta was a nightmare for attackers. He was technically impeccable and his perfectly timed last ditch tackles will remain immortal in the hearts of all football lovers. Nesta was also extremely elegant with the ball and possessed excellent skills. He was also a great passer of the ball. Nesta was a complete defender who had a dominant career at both club and international level. He has won 3 Serie A titles (with Lazio in 2000, with AC Milan in 2004, 2011) and 2 UEFA Champions League titles (with AC Milan in 2003, 2007). Nesta won the Club World Cup in 2007. For Italy, Nesta won 78 caps, including 3 Euro Cups (1996, 2000, 2004) and 3 World Cups (1998, 2002, 2006). He was a key member of Italy’s squad that lifted the World Cup in 2006. Nesta retired from professional football, very recently in October 2013. This 38 year old legendary defender will improve the profile of ISL in every possible way, if signed. He can probably be the greatest inspiration for all Indian defenders, who will play either in his ISL team or even against him. Nesta’s global fan following will bring ISL into international spotlight.
Raul Gonzalez is one of Spain’s greatest players of all time. Raul has scored 44 international goals for Spain and has featured in 102 matches for Espana. He was Spain’s all time highest goal scored until 25th March 2011, when David Villa went past his tally of goals. Raul is also an iconic figure at Real Madrid. He spent 16 years at Santiago Bernabeu, where he won 6 La-Liga crowns and 3 UEFA Champions League titles. One of the greatest strikers of the last decade, Real Madrid legend, Raul Gonzalez, is at the absolute twilight of his career. Raul’s contract with Qatar’s Al Sadd expires in December 2014 and he might hang up his boots after that. Raul could be a perfect probable-marquee for the ISL. The 37 year old goal-machine would be a great inspiration for young Indian strikers. He would also bring the vast number of Indian Real Madrid fans to the stadiums.
It is no rocket science , that these players will bring the firepower with them to the Indian Super League. With players such as David Trezeguet and Robert Pires already associated with the drafts, another surprise could be on its way. The Indian Super League has attracted players with star dust and we can very well see the players mentioned above taking part in the foreign drafts. In times such as these, it is exciting and moreover ‘dream-come true’ scenario, for every football crazy fan in India.
Written by Guest Author Srijan Bhattacharya