Indian Football

5 Indian Footballers Who Have Played in Foreign Leagues

Arjun Singh Devgan
Bhaichung Bhutia is an iconic figure in Indian football
Bhaichung Bhutia is an iconic figure in Indian football / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Indian national football team might not be in the top-100 countries when it comes to the FIFA international rankings, but there is no doubt that the country has produced some incredible footballers during it's history.

Here, we take a look at five Indian footballers who have played in various foreign leagues around the globe.

1. Mohammed Salim

FC Kobenhavn v Celtic FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg
FC Kobenhavn v Celtic FC - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The first player from the Indian sub-continent to play for a European club, Mohammed Salim played barefooted during his career and was so impressive that the Chinese Olympic side, invited him to play a few friendlies in 1936.

The footballing legend quickly gained the attention of Scottish side, Celtic FC who invited him for trials and signed him after impressing them. He played a few games for them post which he returned to India after suffering from homesickness.

2. Bhaichung Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia
Bhaichung Bhutia / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Hailed as "God's gift to Indian football" by IM Vijayan, Bhaichung Bhutia remains an icon of the sport in India, with the striker signing for English club, Bury in 1999.

He made 37 appearances for the club, becoming the first Asian-born player to score a brace in an English football match. Later on in his career, the striker played for several other foreign clubs such as Perak FA and MK Land FC from Malaysia.

3. Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri
India v Bahrain - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The most famous footballer to come from India in the past decade or so is Sunil Chhetri, with the 37-year-old achieving legendary status courtesy of his performances for both club and country.

The striker had secured a spot with Queens Park Rangers but could not join the team since India was not in top 70 international rankings. He signed for Major League Soccer (MLS) side, Kansas City Wizards in 2010 and in 2012, he got an opportunity with Sporting Lisbon and played for their reserve team.

4. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

India v United Arab Emirates - AFC Asian Cup Group A
India v United Arab Emirates - AFC Asian Cup Group A / Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

The first Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is without doubt India's number one goalkeeper and one of the best players in the country.

Sandhu signed for Norwegian club FC Stabaek in 2014 and made a senior debut for them in 2015. He made his Norwegian League debut in 2016 and later on participated in the UEFA Europa League qualifying round.

5. Subrata Pal

Subrata Paul
Zinedine Zidane Visits Mumbai / Rubina A. Khan/Getty Images

The first-ever Indian goalkeeper to play for a foreign club, Subrata Pal was signed by Danish club, FC Vestsjaelland in 2014, for whom he made a number of appearances in the reserve team.

Called as the "Indian Spiderman" due to his quick reflexes, the 34-year-old continues to perform at the highest level in the Indian Super League (ISL).