Indian Super League 2015 kicks off on 3rd October as Chennaiyin FC take on Atlético de Kolkata in Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Several Indian players were able to make a mark for themselves in the first edition of the competition. However, the resounding success of ISL 2014 can be primarily attributed to the presence of marquee players in the club ranks.
Some of the biggest names in World football such as Luis García in Atlético de Kolkata, Elano in Chennaiyin FC, Alessandro Del Piero in Delhi Dynamos FC, Robert Pirès in FC Goa, David James in Kerala Blasters FC, Fredrik Ljungberg in Mumbai City FC, Joan Capdevila in North East United FC and David Trezeguet in FC Pune City graced Indian football with their presence and were the real crowd pullers.
This year, the local franchises in the Indian Super League have a new set of marquee players in their ranks. Let us take a look at the marquee player list of ISL 2015.
Roberto Carlos (Delhi Dynamos FC)
On 9th July, 2015, legendary Brazilian left-back and 2002 World Cup winner Roberto Carlos was announced as the player-manager of Delhi Dynamos for ISL 2015. He follows closely on the heels of Italian striker Alessandro Del Piero, who was the capital club’s marquee signing last year.
Roberto Carlos, now 42, is rated as one of the best left-backs to have ever played the beautiful game. He is nicknamed el hombre bala (the bullet man) because of his unique ability to unleash powerful gravity defying free kicks with consummate ease. His capacity to tirelessly bomb down the left flank all day long is a sight to behold for football aficionados.
Carlos’ club career really took off when he joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in 1996 from Internazionale. He spent 11 highly successful years at the club winning 4 La Liga titles and 3 UEFA Champions League trophies. After 3 brief spells with Fenerbahçe, Corinthians and Anzhi Makhachkala, Carlos retired from professional football in 2012.
Speaking ahead his arrival in India, Carlos said, “I am looking forward to this stint as an opportunity to impart new playing techniques to players, hone their skills.
“I am humbled by the immense support from Indian fans which motivated me to come here and play for Delhi Dynamos.”
Delhi Dynamos will be hoping that Roberto Carlos’ vast experience of top flight football can help them to improve upon their 5th place finish last year.
Elano (Chennaiyin FC)
Brazilian playmaker Elano is the only marquee player retained by an ISL franchisee from last year’s edition. He put in some stellar displays for Chennaiyin FC last season and eventually finished as the top goal scorer in the tournament with 8 goals.
Known for his pin point set pieces and immaculate free kicks, the former Brazilian International has represented several top clubs in Europe and Latin America before his move to the ISL.
Starting off his career with Santos in Brazil, Elano moved to Europe in 2004 and went on to represent Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City and Galatasaray. He returned to Latin America in 2011 and enjoyed brief spells with Santos, Gremio and Flamengo before eventually joining Chennaiyin FC.
Elano, who took Chennaiyin FC into the ISL semi final last year, will be hoping to go two steps further this time around.
Hélder Postiga (Atlético de Kolkata)
Champions Atletico de Kolkata pulled off a major coup when they announced the signing of Portuguese International striker Helder Postiga for the 2015 Indian Super League season.
Along with Nuno Gomes, Postiga was the striking mainstay of the Portuguese national team over the past decade scoring 27 goals in 71 appearances in the process.
A product of the much famed Porto youth academy, Postiga spent 6 years with the club amassing 112 appearances and 37 goals. After two largely unsuccessful spells with French club Saint Etienne, Greek club Panathanaikos and fellow Portuguese rivals Sporting CP, Postiga moved to Spain in 2011. After brief spells with Zaragoza, Valencia and Deportivo La Coruna, Postiga decided to try his hand with Atletico de Kolkata in the Indian Super League.
— Atlético de Kolkata (@atletidekolkata) July 29, 2015
Speaking at a media interaction, Postiga said, “It is an honour to play for Atletico (de Kolkata). I hope I can share my experiences with the Indian players.
“Luis Garcia did an amazing job last season and it will be difficult to emulate that, but I am confident that we can be champions again.”
He will be hoping to put in stellar displays for his new club and help them retain the ISL crown.
Lúcio (FC Goa)
FC Goa recruited World Cup winning centre-back Lucio to make him the 3rd Brazilian marquee signing in ISL 2015.
Lucio, a no nonsense central defender with excellent aerial ability, was instrumental in Brazil’s route to winning the 2002 World Cup. He eventually went on to represent his national side on 105 occasions and scoring 4 goals.
Lucio played for a whole host major clubs in South America and Europe during the course of his career. After starting his career with Brazilian giants Internacional in 1998, Lucio moved to Germany in 2001 when he signed for Bayer Leverkusen. He was instrumental in guiding Leverkusen to the 2002 UEFA Champions League final, where they eventually lost out to Real Madrid.
In 2004, he signed for German giants Bayern Munich in a multimillion dollar deal. After a very successful 5 year career in Bavaria, Lucio moved south to sign for Italian club Inter Milan. In 2010, Lucio won a historic treble under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho.
“It was a new challenge for me. I spoke to Zico and he explained to me the nature of the league how it was and the discussion with him was what made me join this project here at FC Goa,” said Lucio at a press conference.
“I feel the group is very good they all come from different backgrounds and train hard. They have gelled very well as a team.”
FC Goa had the 2nd best defence in the league last season and the presence of Lucio in their ranks will do their chances of keeping more clean sheets no harm.
Carlos Marchena (Kerala Blasters)
Kerala Blasters announced the capture of Spanish World Cup winner Carlos Marchena as their marquee signing on July 27, 2015.
Marchena represented Brazil at 2 World Cups and 2 European Championships winning one apiece in 2008 and 2010. He made his debut for the national side in 2002 and eventually went on to amass 69 appearances in 9 years for Spain.
Marchena, a product of Sevilla’s youth academy, made his debut for the senior side in 1997. However, Marchena truly went on to make a name for himself when he signed for Spanish side Valencia in 2001. A club legend, Marchena made 230 appearances for the club over a 9 year span. He managed to win 5 trophies with Valencia, including 2 La Liga titles and 1 UEFA Cup.
After leaving Valencia in 2010, Marchena represented Villarreal and Deportivo La Coruna for 2 years each before signing for Kerala Blasters in 2015.
He will provide a much needed solidity at the back for the Kerala Blasters in their pursuit for a maiden ISL crown.
Nicolas Anelka (Mumbai City FC)
Former French International striker Nicolas Anelka made his first appearance for Mumbai City FC in the middle of last season. However, he failed to make a real impact for the club as they eventually finished in 7th position. This season, Anelka has been announced as the marquee signing for Mumbai City FC.
Nicolas Anelka has made 69 appearances for the French national side and has gone on to score 14 goals during that period. His International legacy will remain forever tarnished due to his infamous spat with national team coach Raymond Domenech before the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Anleka was eventually banished from the squad and sent back to France by Domenech.
At the club level, Anelka has gone on to represent Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahçe and Chelsea amongst a whole bunch of other big clubs.
“When I left Mumbai last season, I said if I have to come back to India, I want to come back only to Mumbai,” Anelka told ISL’s official web portal.
“Well I liked the show I saw last year, I liked everything about India, I like fans, I like Mumbai, I like the level of competition because the level is high as well.”
He will be hoping to utilize his diverse experience and inspire Mumbai City FC to the 2015 Indian Super League crown.
Simão Sabrosa (North East United FC)
Portuguese winger Simão Sabrosa signed as a marquee player for North East United FC on June 25th. Simao plays as a winger and is renowned for his dribbling ability and set piece skills.
Simao is a former Portuguese International who has made 85 appearances for his country over 12 years and scored 22 goals. Simao featured prominently for Portugal as they reached the 2004 Euro final and 2006 World Cup semi final.
Simao has won multiple accolades at the club level with Benfica, Sporting CP and Atletico Madrid. Simao starred for Benfica as they won the Portuguese Liga in 2004-05. He also won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid in 2010.
After brief spells with Besiktas and Espanyol, Simao signed for North East United FC in the 2nd season of the Indian Super League.
The NEFC fans will be hoping that Simao’s skills and trickery on the left flank will help the club improve upon its bottom place finish last time around.
Adrian Mutu (FC Pune City)
FC Pune City signed the controversial Romanian International striker Adrian Mutu as their marquee player for the 2nd edition of the Indian Super League. Mutu’s phenomenal goal scoring record for club and country will boost FC Pune City’s firepower in front of goal.
Adrian Mutu has represented his country 77 times and is the joint top scorer in Romania’s history with 35 goals along with the legendary Gheorghe Hagi. He also played for Romania as part of its Under-16, under-18 and under-21 squads.
He excelled at the club level in the Italian Serie A and scored heaps of goals while playing for Verona, Parma and Juventus. However, Mutu truly made a mark for himself at Fiorentina, scoring 54 goals in 112 appearances for the Florence club.
Mutu has courted several controversies over the course of his career. In 2004, Mutu’s contract was terminated by Chelsea after he tested positive for a banned drug and was subsequently offloaded to Juventus. In 2011, Mutu was handed a 3 match ban by his national side for breaching discipline.
FC Pune City will be hoping Mutu stays away from further controversies that have plighted much of his career and instead focus his energies on steering the club to glory.